As freelance writers, it's not uncommon to have our work referred to potential clients from past clients or from other writers (or other publishing professionals in our networks). But too many writers stop there, when referral possibilities can seem practically endless if you really put some thought into it. Business cards are just the tool to help you improve your referral network. Here's how:
Online networking can seem easy, but don't get so caught up in it that you forget about building an offline professional network. Hand your business card out to anyone you meet that may be a future lead (directly or indirectly). Better yet, "partner" with other freelancers and small business owners in your area to help bring the local clients in.
It's easy. Simply trade a stack of your business cards with a professional who targets a similar market but who doesn't directly compete with you. For example, I write press releases, and do some music publicity work. I could give out my card to local show promoters to have them refer musicians for press releases to announce their shows or new albums. At the same time, I would take the cards of the show promoters (promoters and publicists are very different things in music) and refer my music publicity clients to them for the "ground work" of getting people out to their shows. We share a market, but we're not competing against each other.
Here are some other examples:
- A Web copywriter could swap referrals with a Web designer who focuses on local businesses.
- A copywriter could swap referrals with a non-Web-based graphic designer as well.
- A business writer might swap business cards with a local printer.
- A technical writer might team up with a small local engineering firm.
- A medical writer might team up with a local medical practitioner.
Just find someone who you can share a mutual benefit with, and who you trust enough to give an honest referral to.
As an added bonus and incentive, you can stamp the back of each other's cards with a "Referred by" stamp, so you'll each be able to better track where your clients are coming from. You can extend special deals for clients from their referrals to give them a slight selling point to push your services and vice versa.