When you are researching buying a product or service, you probably look at review sites or ask around for recommendations.

Referrals and recommendations are gold for your business, and this is what Carol covers in her recent post on the Bank of America Small Business Community, “5 Simple Steps to Increase Business Referrals.” Carol begins:

Would you buy a mattress online? Probably not, unless someone you trust highly recommends it. According to statistics, word-of-mouth referrals increase a customer’s likelihood of buying four-fold.

Leesa Sleep learned this lesson well. They generated enough referrals to build a $45 million business in less than a year — with no brick-and-mortar presence. If they can sell mattresses sight-unseen, just think of what your business can do by proactively encouraging everyone to spread the word.

Here are 5 ways to do just that.

1. Form partnerships inside and outside of your business

Satisfied customers are vital for referral programs, but they’re not your only source. You can form referral partnerships with just about anyone who touches your business, including customers, vendors and, of course, your employees and contractors.

Uber has mastered this concept by offering referral rewards to drivers. All drivers receive points for certain tasks that sign up new drivers, as well as riders. Riders can receive referral rewards as well, of course, and everything is easy thanks to app dashboards on everyone’s phones. This is definitely a win-win program.

Finally, don’t forget about other businesses. Anyone from your suppliers to a local coffee shop deals with people who can become your customers. Strike a deal with them to make some mutual referrals when appropriate.

You can read the rest of the post here.