What exactly IS a referral network? In short, it’s a group of businesses that you know, like and trust that you can refer your friends, family and customers to. In return, these business also refer their friends, family and customers to you. Building a referral network doesn’t have to be difficult, it just takes a little work.
- Credibility: Find businesses who know their business. You want to partner with people who are experts at what they do. They should be someone you have done business with and have firsthand knowledge of how they treat their customers.
- Customers: Look inside your network of current customers when you’re looking for a product or service. If you have a customer that you’ve enjoyed working with, use their services when you have an opportunity. Then refer them to people in your circle who are looking for what they provide. This will help cement your relationship and forge bonds of goodwill.
- Expand Your Network: Look outside your current circle for new businesses you can add to your network.
- Variety: Don’t look for businesses exactly like yours – DO look for business that are related to what you do. If you’re a graphic designer, your clients might come to you for a printer, web designer, or marketing firm. As an expert in your industry, you should have contacts that you know personally in these related industries that you can refer your clients to.
- Build Relationships First: This is probably the most important point I can make. In order to build a successful referral network, you have to build the relationships. Meet with them outside of business, outside of networking functions. Get to know them on a personal level. Make sure they are someone you know, like and trust to do a great job as a referral.
- 2-Way Street: Have the conversation about creating a referral network with potential partners. Referrals should go both ways. This should be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Take some time and get to really know the people you network with. Learn about them on both a personal and business level. Know that they can solve a problem or provide goods & services that you don’t offer to your contacts. Be open about building your referral network.
A strong referral network can be win/win for everyone.