The holy grail of any business is be referable (i.e., to have new clients show up because of positive word-of-mouth from existing customers).

There is no shortcut to becoming referable. We have to earn it. At minimum, we need to have at least the following three things in place.

Be able. Yes, the table stakes in this game of business is competence. You are capable of performing the challenges and responsibilities you take on. If you're sloppy, tardy, or unskilled, you cannot expect existing clients to help you gain new customers to disappoint. Or it may be that you are quite a capable worker, but not in the particular role you occupy---which means you may need to re-evaluate what you want to do when you grow up!

Be remarkable. "Yeah, they were OK, I guess..." is not a ringing endorsement. Referrals come through providing extraordinaryservice--- exceeding expectations, having a great attitude, making the entire user experience a positive one. Just recently, I experienced exceptional customer service from a high-end boutique provider of chocolates---remarkable enough to be blog-worthy. Commodity-level service does not earn word-of-mouth business.

Be transferable. This is the capstone. If anyone is going to refer you, they'll have to use words (and, increasingly, links) to pass you along to others. Do you have one Web link or blog post that gives a great summary of your service? Perhaps it should be featured in your e-mail signature. Do you have a punchy, one-sentence summary that creates a memorable word picture in the mind of your clients (and potential clients)? Don't do any marketing without it.

There's a lot of noise---and also plenty of competition---out there. However, there is also a boatload of opportunity for any great business or entrepreneur that is outstanding (or standing out) in the field. Social media is an amplifier. It can accentuate and highlight your greatness. But you still have to be able, remarkable, and transferable if you ultimately hope to be referable!

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Happy Young People)

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image of Steve Woodruff

Steve Woodruff is the world's only Clarity Therapist. He connects people with their purpose, their message, and with other people in order to create new business opportunities. He writes at the

Steve is an unusual hybrid of conceptualizer, strategist, marketer, analyst, wordsmith, semi-techie, and all-around decent fellow, except when there's bad coffee or lousy wine.

Steve can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn.