6+1 tips on how to get a great reference

References are probably the best salesperson you can get for your business. But what is a good thing to keep in mind to make references really effective?

What is a reference?

In the context of a testimonial/testimonial site, we usually mean a paragraph of flattering text written by a client about your work or product.

In this article we will focus more on references for services.

Ondrej Ilinchev has written about the products in a great way onyour blog. For freelancers, Robert Vlach wrote a great, practical article on the portalFreelance.

What is the purpose of the reference?

The goal is to capture the strengths of the professional, the type and scope of the work done. To make the reference credible, it is good if the client signs his/her name, gives his/her contact details and a photo.

What defines a good reference?

  • It is neither too long nor too short.
  • He’s specific.
  • It should give an idea of the scope of the work.
  • It’s positive.
  • It is written in simple language, without complex/area-specific words.

When to ask for a reference?

Ask for a reference once the job is done and your client is satisfied or even excited. Call to thank him or her, or write a short email and ask if he or she would write you a short reference.

Writing a reference for someone is no small thing. Don’t assume it’s automatic. Let people know that if they write you a reference, you’ll really appreciate it.

Make this a habit. It will pay off handsomely.

How do you get a little bit of a handle on references?

Getting a reference, especially a quality one, is not easy. However, it is so useful that it is definitely worth seeking. So how do you get a good reference?

Tip 1: Offer something in return

Writing a reference takes time. In addition, the person in question puts his or her name on it and in a way “vouches” for you.

If you can, try to compensate the person for the effort and risk:

  • Offer a short consultation
  • Provide him with a short video or tutorial on how to take care of your output
  • Send him a small gift (e.g. a bottle of wine)

Tip 2: Adjust it

Your clients are warm-hearted and honest people, but they’re usually not copywriters. Don’t be afraid to rewrite the reference. Don’t add anything. Just make the text simpler, cleaner and more direct. Then diplomatically ask the client to agree to use the new version.

Tip 3: Use a three-step pattern

Personally, I try to stick to the framework for my referencesBrian Dean from Backlink.

The framework is very simple.

If you approach a client to provide a reference, ask them to answer these three questions:

  1. What was it likeBefore by your cooperation?
  2. What it’s likeafter your cooperation?
  3. What would he say to yourto a possible future to the client?

This process will give you an extremely strong reference. You will probably have to edit it a bit, but the result will be worth it.

Tip 4: Don’t force yourself

You won’t get a reference from every project. It’s okay. Don’t fight it.

There are several possible reasons for this:

  • You will not get the best result imaginable,
  • Clienthates providing references,
  • The assignment is wrong, the client is not satisfied with the result.

Often you get a reference, sometimes you don’t. The important thing is not to break it over your knee.

Tip. 5: Get full name, photo and contact

“I enjoyed the cooperation, thank you very much!” Jan N.

Do you find such a reference credible? It’s better than nothing, but not by much… If possible, try to supplement the reference with:

  • client photo
  • Name
  • Contact

The goal is to make the reference credible.

For example, if you let clients write recommendations directly to youGoogle my business / onFirms.cznot only will the recommendation be more trustworthy in principle (as it is on an external platform), but you will also often automatically get a full name, photo and sometimes even a contact.

Tip 6: If you work with colleagues, ask them for recommendations as well

If you’re a freelancer or work as part of a team, you’ll also meet many other professionals.

A wedding photographer meets with pastry chefs, florists, DJs… IT project managers meet progammers, IT architects and graphic designers…

If you are comfortable working with your colleagues, write them a reference. They will often return the favour (if they are happy too) and you can get a great recommendation.

It definitely depends on the field, but in many professions, references from colleagues can be more important to a layperson than references from “other laypeople”.

P.S. A good way to get a reference is also to ask your colleagues for feedback (how they worked with you), if the feedback is negative you will learn and improve, if positive you can use it as a reference.

You win both ways.

Bonus tip: Use your references

People often have testimonials on their websites. That’s all. And it’s a shame.

You can use your references:

  • in offers to clients
  • as a social media post
  • as part of your newsletter

Once you have a testimonial, make sure you make the most of it.

Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments how you get on with the references!

Vojtech Bruk