Using client referrals to expand your business: tips for freelancers and small business owners

Sales strategy
Juliette Belfiore
10 January 2023


How do you get your clients to help you find new clients?

Are you planning a transition from employment to self-employment? Are you working on side projects? Or start as a Freelancer/Launch Your Business?

Getting started on your own is a complex but very exciting challenge. Of course, being a freelancer means freedom… as long as you do have clients! And friendly clients who pay on time: that's a plus!

Once you have your clientele base you can afford to keep the best ones and won't need to look for new clients anymore. If you are good at what you do, they will come to you!

But in the meantime, the most complicated thing for you is to find new clients!

Sometimes you don't need to rack your brains to create a solid AI-powered marketing strategy. The old-fashioned way often works even better: just ask your client to recommend you!

You have just completed a mission, it went very well with your client. Don't wait months send an email! Are you too shy to ask for a recommendation? Try it, you will be surprised. People are often honored to receive such a request and are very happy to help you.

And it works!

Ready to expand your client base? Here are several ideas of what you can ask your client (current or past) to get more clients.

Request an introduction for a specific client

You have been working with a client for a while and you have spotted on Linkedin or Instagram that he is working closely with another client. You really want to work with this person/company. You would like to ask your client to introduce you.

Several ways to suggest your customer this introduction:

  • Ask for an introduction by email

Ask your client to write an email to your targeted client with you in cc as an introduction which might look like this:

📧“I worked with xxx on the xxx project and the collaboration was excellent. He/She would like to contact you. Here it is in cc of the email, you have the contact details so I let you continue hoping that a collaboration can emerge between you two.”

  • Propose a meeting in a coffee shop

An email is not enough for you. Do you prefer to be able to convince your targeted client face-to-face? If you are close enough to your client, you can ask him to set up a 3-way meeting so you can introduce yourself.

Best ideas flourish in coffee shops!🥐☕

  • Introduction at an event

This case is interesting. You noticed that your targeted client would be at the same event as your current or former client. You want to take advantage of this situation.  Let your client know that you would like to get in touch with his contact at this event.

An event is a perfect place to discuss face-to-face informal business in a relaxed way and strengthen your network. New collaborations often emerge at events.

😉Tips :

  • If you're still working for your client: you need to be reassuring that you'll still be available, even if you're splitting your time with this potential new client.
  • If you no longer work for your client: tell him that working with his interlocutor is a way to stay in the same ecosystem for possible future collaboration. He should not feel offended by this request but valued.

Ask for a personalized LinkedIn recommendation

Asking for a recommendation is not a request that can be left to a robot🤖. A client would not feel sufficiently considered to take the step if an AI asks for it!

Linkedin recommendations for a freelancer are a bit like a Google review for a restaurant: ESSENTIAL💥. Since COVID, the social network has established its leading position in professional networking and content creation. A freelancer cannot do without it to find new clients!

The Malt platform for connecting freelancers with clients has understood this well: recommendations are a determining factor in the success of collaborations' starting.

🥇A well-written Linkedin recommendation is worth gold.

😉Tips :

Do not wait three months after the end of an assignment to ask for a Linkedin recommendation from a client.

Here is the way to How to recommend someone on Linkedin?

Boost word-of-mouth

At the end of your mission with a good client, you can send an email to your interlocutor to thank him & the team and express your gratitude 🙏. We often forget this part but it is very important. It is a powerful message that your client will remember.

You can also provide honest feedback on how the mission went.

Take advantage of this email to promote word of mouth👄. Tell your client that you are open for more business, that they don't hesitate to talk about you, and give your contact information or website.

If you say it clearly, they will remember when the opportunity arises.🤝

Create a common article

The must is to create an article about your collaboration with a client: it is a good way to promote your work and share it on your social media.📱

✍🏾This article could be on your client’s blog or yours if you have one. Take your time to write and illustrate a well-written article and propose to your client. You can also do an interview.

If it is worth it, it can be promoted through a newsletter sent to your client’s contacts.

Request a social media post or share

If the article idea seems too time-consuming, consider a social media post and pitch the idea to your client.

  • Either you write a nice post and ask your client to promote it,
  • Or just ask your client to post about your collaboration and you will share and promote it.


If your client writes an article, you don't just like it, you comment on it! Tag several people with whom you collaborated for this mission to boost the publication. The more interactions a post has, the more people it reaches.🚀

The sooner you get back to your client after the engagement, the easier it will be for them to recommend or introduce contacts to you. Don't wait months to dare to solicit a client, especially if the relationship between you has been good.

I highly recommend doing this over email rather than a messaging app or phone, as it gives more impact. And with MailTracker you will know if your email has been read by your customer and how many times. Here is the Manifesto.

Email tracking for Gmail

Track every emails and documents that you’ll be send. Know exactly who and when your PDF are opened and never miss an opportunity to follow up again.

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