1. Think of it as an introduction — not a sales pitch.  Focus on building a relationship with the prospective client first.

2. Be conscious of timing.  If you’re doing your job and meeting your client’s needs, don’t hesitate to mention that you would like to expand your client base.  The uncertainty in today’s market makes this the perfect time to ask clients if there’s anyone else you can help.

3. Set a target.  It’s important to set a monthly referral target to motivate yourself and keep track of your results. The ideal number depends on each advisor, a safe rule of thumb is to choose the number of clients you want and then double it.

4. Consider offering incentives.  Giving a discount for future services or a gift certificate to clients are common ways of saying thank you.

5. Take advantage of LinkedIn.  The social networking site’s “People You May Know” tool is an excellent way for advisers to find potential prospects who are connected to your clients.

6. Don’t let clients forget about the referral.  Remind your clients that you are interested in growing your business in newsletters, business cards and your website.

7. Keep detailed records (about your clients and their friends).  Ask lots of open-ended questions, like ‘What are you doing for Labor Day?’ and if your clients talk about their relatives or friends, note that in the back of your head.  Noting who your clients spend time with and having a name to suggest could be useful.

8. Create a script.  It will be easier to approach clients when you already know what you’re going to say. Your script should include a description of who your ideal client is.  If you’ve provided your clients with excellent service, the largest error you can make is not asking for a reference.

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