One of the most common referral hang-ups we hear from advisors is that they don't want to ask for them because they're afraid that they will come off as desperate--that their clients will see them as unsuccessful and in need of help.
Instead of seeking more passive ways to generate referrals, or far worse, not asking at all, consider merely altering the focal point of your requests. Don't make "I" statements like, "I was wondering if you knew of anyone who could benefit from my services." Switch the subject to "we":
"Let's see who else we can help."
"I'm certain there are people you care about who might also value our work."
"There are many people who are getting no advice, bad advice, or incomplete advice. They are setting themselves and their families up for disaster. Let's explore who you care about, to make sure they're being taken care of properly."
It's a simple change, yet making "we" and "us" the subject of your requests effectively takes the emphasis of the conversation off of you and what you get out of it, and it also creates a stake for the client, making them more likely to act. If you're worried that asking for referrals will make you look vulnerable, try using "we" statements.
Here are some articles that offer additional strategies for bringing up referrals with your clients (free registration required):
A Referral Conversation That Works Today
When client portfolios have taken a hit, referrals are usually the last thing on an advisor's mind. But it's actually an ideal time to broach the subject, and here's a way to do it with tact and success.
A 6-Step Referral Script for a Down Market
It may seem counterintuitive, but the market climate now is creating a great referral opportunity. People are looking for solutions and expertise, so use this script to offer a helping hand to your clients' friends and acquaintances.
Referrals: How to Approach Friends and Social Contacts
Suppose you have an affluent friend who socializes with other people of similar wealth and stature--but who's strictly a friend, not a client. What's the best way to broach the topic of referrals without injuring your relationship?