While the value of using social media to gain clients is a steady drumbeat these days, don’t discount the power of handing out business cards to your favorite customers, says Annie Tsai, the author of The Small Business Online Marketing Handbook: Converting Online Conversations to Offline Sales. “Asking for the referral is often the most difficult part of building a referral program,” she says. “However, you need to educate your customers on how they can help support your business — especially in the beginning.”

Even if you don’t establish a formal referral program, you can use business cards as an easy conversation starter. Says Tsai: “Simply hand the customer three business cards at the point of sale and say, ‘I’d really appreciate it if you could let a few friends know about the great service you received today.’”

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