One Fun Way to Get More Referrals and “Perfect Fit” Clients

Target Your Customers Hand Note: This post is a transcribed excerpt from an interview with Debra Jason of The Write Direction. 

Earlier discussion was about how to identify your ideal client, and that’s where this transcript picks up.

Be sure to watch for the link at the bottom and grab your full copy of this interview audio!

MICHELLE – You know, the important thing here is that you’ve gotta know who you’re looking for because if you’re just looking to work with anyone. Well, they’re all around you. While it’s easy to find anyone, it’s hard to know where to focus yourself. That’s where knowing your ideal client really comes in once you’ve gone through these questions and identified them it makes finding them so much easier because you won’t feel frazzled like you’re just kind of shooting everywhere hoping you’ll connect with the right person. You’re going to be able to get out there and meet those clients.

So Debra, once you’ve got these things figured out – you know who you’re looking for, what’s the next you thing you do to get out there to find the right people to become those really ideal clients for you?

DEBRA – Today I’m going to share 3 of what I call the most fun ways to get out there. These are things that I did and still do today.

TIP #1 Join professional organizations.

Dick Connor and Jeffrey Davidson (Marketing Your Consulting and Professional Services, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) maintain that if you: “Visit any metro area and attend a local meeting of the Red Cross, International Rotary. . . or other civic, professional, or charitable groups and undoubtedly, you will meet many of the area’s most successful professionals. Successful professionals know that giving of their time freely is an excellent way to be of service to the community and to help build the firm.”

So go out there and see what organizations that you can join. And you know what? This is just one really simple step you can take that can lead to referrals and new business.

MICHELLE – You know, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people as well. Again if you know who you’re looking for and you know what type of organizations will speak to you, go speak to them. Some of the people I’ve connected with that have become great clients or joint venture partners or others have been at organizations or events, some of them not even business related. We connected over other things as you’re suggesting here that led to business relationships.

I’ve seen a lot of people go out and join organizations and just wait for business to come their way. Clients don’t knock on your door just because you’ve signed up for the local chapter of the ABC Association. So what do you do after you join to be able to build those connections with people? Can you talk about this?

DEBRA – Well, that brings me to TIP #1A. It’s one thing that I always mention when talking about joining organizations. And that is, you don’t just pay your membership dues and walk away. You don’t just join, you get involved.

TIP #1A – Don’t Just Join – GET INVOLVED.

Volunteer to serve on a committee (i.e. public relations, entertainment, programming, event planning, etc.) or sit on the Board of Directors.

And, the value in this is that fellow colleagues find out who you are, learn more about you and your business and they discover your capabilities in a very casual, relaxed way. You increase your network of contacts and are given the chance to share your expertise.

There were many times, for instance, that I received a referral and it came from someone I had never done any writing for – they only knew me because we were in the same business group or served on a committee and, because of their experience with me, they then felt good passing my name along to others.

The thing to keep in mind here is that YOU DON’T HAVE TO JOIN A ZILLION GROUPS. When I started my business I decided I would join 2 organizations. Since I specialized in direct marketing I chose the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association and since I lived in Boulder at the time, I joined the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

I understand money may be tight so pick one or two groups that really resonate with you. And, you may find some of these groups don’t cost anything or may be quite affordable to join. For instance, when I was here on Kauai living here full time, I was President of the Kauai North Shore Business Council and the annual membership fee, for many years, was ONLY $25.00 a year. When we raised the fee, it was still only $35.00/year.

You don’t have to go out and spend a fortune. You can find a group that, as Michelle said earlier, doesn’t necessarily have to be a business group. Go online to and you’ll probably find numerous groups that don’t cost anything to attend. I’ve seen groups for people who like to walk small dogs, people who own big dogs, people that go hiking, people that are starting their own business. Check out the MeetUp groups.

MICHELLE – What I love about this tip is that it really goes back to two of the mindset lessons you gave earlier. About being kind to yourself and doing what you love. Because it might seem like, I mean, I don’t have a dog, but if I had a small dog it might seem kind of crazy to join a group that I would go walk my dog with other people as a business tactic. But that’s something I do to be kind to myself and connect with other people. And, everybody knows somebody. So remember that when you’re looking at these organizations and groups that that’s part of what you’re doing is getting the awareness out of how you serve people because everyone you meet knows somebody who knows somebody. And, when they’re out looking for a service or a product, you want to be top of mind so that you get those referrals.

So, I know you’re going to share a little bit more about how to get those referrals.

DEBRA – Yes, and you know it’s interesting because yesterday I taught a class – it was in-person, it wasn’t a virtual class and I mentioned these pointers and one person raised his hand and said “You know, I got a phone call the other day and it was from somebody who I never met and didn’t know them, but they knew to use the name Joe Smith. And, Joe Smith had been at one of my presentations and Joe Smith passed my name along and now I’m talking to this person about working with him.”

So you know, it goes back to what I call that ONE SIMPLE STEP that leads to referrals and new business and that’s joining just 2 organizations of people – people who might be prospective clients and you never know who they’ll talk to and who they’re going to refer you to. Or, who might, you might find someone you want to refer. You never know where those referrals are going to come from. And when you’re joining these organizations and connecting w/people then you’re putting yourself out there to that opportunity.

Many people say “where do I go?” Well, here’s a long list you can consider. There are probably numerous choices in your area.

For instance, consider:

1. Your local Chamber of Commerce

2. Your local Rotary Club – I lived on the small of island of Kauai for 10 years and they had SIX rotary clubs there.

3. Zonta International an organization with local chapters that focus on empowering women)

4. Your local business associations (Kauai North Shore Business Council, Kapaa Business Association, Boulder Women in Business Leadership Group).

5. NAWBO – national assoc of women business owners & other business women’s professional groups.

6. Fund-raising or non-profit organizations.

7. Your local advertising or direct marketing club, if there is one.

8. Your local marketing or public relations associations

Chances are that in your community, maybe it’s a very small community or maybe it’s a large one, there are probably 2 organizations you can join and get you the exposure you’re looking for.

In their book Marketing Your Service Business (Self-Counsel Press), authors Jean Withers & Carol Vipperman say the one step is this: “Joining just two organizations of people who might be prospective clients can provide referrals and new business. Ask associates which organizations might be most suitable for you. Visit the organizations before you decide to join.”

MICHELLE – Awesome, there really are so many organizations around us that we can get out there and get involved in. And get those opportunities to get to know our community, to get referrals both through us and getting business referred to us. It’s such a great strategy.

OK Debra you mentioned that there’s a way to find clients from the comfort of your home – in your PJs – because there are days that I don’t want to get all dressed up and have go out. So what is it, other than social media that we can do from home to find clients?

DEBRA – Well, it’s point #2 which is . . .

Did you find point 1 helpful?  Ready for point 2?  Just go to and let Debra know where to send your access to the audio interview right away.

Are you a member of any organizations or groups?  What’s worked for you in networking and gaining referrals from memberships?  Share in the comments, we’d love to hear your experiences!

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  1. I did find point #1 helpful, Michelle and Debra, especially the point you made about joining JUST TWO organizations and getting involved.

    I have joined a lot of organizations in my day and what works is to find that sweet spot — an organization where your participation includes:

    1. Service work aligned with your talents and interests e.g. I don’t enjoy fundraising by selling tickets etc but I do enjoy physical work of the sort I get volunteering for Habitat for humanity;
    2. Group members who you like and will spend time getting to know you e.g. with members who take time to connect in person outside the group (and you enjoy their company and learn from them);
    3. Ease of opportunity to ask for referrals that’s part of the group norm e.g. the group has a website or newsletter where you can publish an ad or your business card and time for you to give a presentation with handout with your contact info. especially your website URL.

    I’m off to get the full recording.

    1. Love those additional tips, Kate! Thanks for sharing them. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Create Blog Posts that Catch the Eye and Mesmerize Your ReadersMy Profile

  2. Thanks Kate. Like you, I’ve never been one who wants to go out and sell tickets to fundraisers. So, when I’ve volunteered I’ve offered my services in the areas of marketing and PR – helping to promote the event while contributing talents in the area of my expertise.
    Thanks Michelle for sharing this portion of our interview with your peeps. I hope they’ll listen to the recording as it was such fun talking with you and discussing the strategies for moving from freelance to freedom.
    Debra Jason recently posted… How I Became A Kindle Author Without Even Trying & You Can Get My Book For FreeMy Profile

    1. Volunteering your services can also be a great way to really demonstrate your skills so others see what you can do and are even more excited to refer people your way. :)

  3. Great tip. Funny thing is I belong to a local Blogger group and have only met up with them in person once. Can’t really help myself that way. I need to get out my PJ’s :) and start talking to people face to face without a screen in between us.

    Just 2 organizations sounds doable. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the interview.
    Sara recently posted… Are You Listening to Your Yarn?My Profile

    1. I spend too much time in my PJs, too, Sara. ;)

      Hope you enjoyed the interview!

  4. What work best is to get involved. Its like opening door to best friends who likes to visit our house.
    Okto recently posted… 7 Pinterest Ideas to Consider When You Build Up Your Business BoardsMy Profile

  5. These are great tips, loved the interview Michelle!

    I am wondering if you have advice once you identified a few organizations, how do you decide which one is a best use of your time when you don’t have a lot to put in (time I mean :)

    And how do you go about asking if they want you to give a talk or anything without sounding like you want to sell them smth?
    Delia recently posted… How to set up Google authorship: Why should you care?My Profile

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