Like most of us I participate in several email discussion lists. Participants ask for recommendations for software, lawyers, furniture, every imaginable aspect of running a business. This kind of referral is likely to result in a sale and quite possibly a lasting business relationship. So how can you cultivate this?
Ask your customers what email discussion groups they participate in. Do a search on Yahoo Groups for discussion groups that include your industry. Monitor these lists and get a feel for the discussion before you post anything.
Tell your best customers about such lists.
Let’s say you are an independent PR Practitioner who specializes in technology companies. You could link to the PRSA NCC discussion site. But it is unlikely that small system integrators would be interested in such a group. Better to link to the Netpreneur AdMarketing list. If you link sufficient number of such groups it is only a question of time before one of your happy customers gives you a recommendation.