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Word of mouth referral is when your client is so impressed with your service or product, that they pass the word onward, to their friends and family, who in turn, if satisfied, pass it on to their friends. It’s ad-free and based on trust and customer satisfaction. 
Think about the last time you’ve experienced something similar. How many of your friends and relatives have you told? Have they visited the place, used the service or bought the product? What have they said?
For businesses, individual entrepreneurs and freelancers, word of mouth referrals are extremely important. It’s the bread and butter of their success as it allows for growth (oftentimes, exponential growth), recognition, recurring and new connections and more. Freelancers, who have limited resources and time, rely on this the most. 
To be perfectly honest, word of mouth referrals are by far the most effective. According to a recent study by Nielsen, 90% of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth from their friends and family above all other forms of advertising and placed the highest level of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know.
Before we continue, to avoid confusion, I would like to make several things clear: 
There is word of mouth referrals, there are targeted word of mouth referrals and there is affiliate marketing. Word of mouth referrals occur on their own and are most often associated with individuals and freelancers. Targeted word of mouth referrals are usually incentivized by small businesses with platforms, forms and specific incentives to support their requests. Affiliate marketing involves paying a commission for every referral which yielded a purchase. 
I would like to offer my insights into the word of mouth referrals, which could be most useful to freelancers but also to small businesses.