|Paul du Toit CSP - very recommendable!|
Firstly, do people know what skills you have, and have an idea how you transfer them to your clients? You best advocates will know you well, and have a very clear idea what you do, and just as importantly, what you don't do. The reputation of the person who recommends you hinges on whether you do a good job, which means they need to have enormous confidence in you. You should never claim to have skills that you don't possess, since you'll not only upset a client, you may well lose the trust of your friend.
Secondly, do you refer other people? It's not a straightforward reciprocal deal. You don't have to immediately recommend the person who refers you, but it helps a great deal if you are seen to be a giver of referrals as well as a taker of them. My advice is to always try to refer more than you receive, but clearly we can't all do that all the time, or it wouldn't add up. It's about an attitude.
Thirdly, do you show your gratitude? Some people agree referral fees in advance, but in every case, a thank you is the bare minumum, and a small gift, or taking your pal out for a meal is the least you can do. It not only says "thanks", it also strengthens your relationship, and will lead to more referrals between you.
Fourthly, do you say "no" when you're asked to do something outwith your expertise? However, desperate you are for business, this is a poor policy. By all means try to find someone else to fit the bill, but never, ever go for something that you aren't equipped to handle.
Lastly (and this is my personal bugbear), try not to recommend yourself. People who respond to an appeal for skills saying "I can do that" give the requester very little to go on. OK, you can demonstrate your expertise with testimonials from happy clients, but why isn't one of them recommending you? I can hear you thinking "But Alan, they didn't see the request". Fine - in that case send it to them, and ask if they would recommend you. If you're as good as you think you are, they'll be happy to.
So make yourself recommendable.
This topic is covered in great detail in the best book on the topic - "Recommended" by Andy Lopata. If you really want to be recommendable, invest in a copy now.