“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” ~ Dianna Helbia
- Set some goals for what you want to achieve from a referral strategy. This might be a revenue increase of $25,000 in one year. From there, calculate how many referrals you would need to get to land new business. For example, if you have a 50% close rate and your product is priced at $250 per unit, you will need 200 referrals. This could be an average of 6 referrals from each of your 30 contacts. The point here is to be realistic about what you can achieve.
- Create a list of friends and colleagues that have a large network that reaches your target market. Look through your Social Media connections to get some insights about who is on there. It’s likely many are outside your usual circle of people that you interact with daily or face to face. Check out their range of influence (how many connections do they have, how active are they in their posts, do they post information that is line with your values).
- Get out there and network. Meeting different people to build a network of your own, or joining a formal networking group that meets specifically to pass business to one another is a great way to build relationships. These groups can range from your local Chamber of Commerce that offers regular networking opportunities to an industry related association.
- Form an agreement with referral partners to work together to provide each other genuine leads that could potentially bring you more customers. This could be an informal agreement, a structured process of referral exchange, or a set up where you give them compensation for the referral. Either way, you should document the results of who gives you a referral and what the outcomes are to determine whether you are actually getting closer to your goal.
Creating a referral network takes time. It’s really about building stronger relationships with people in order to gain their trust. I don’t know about you, but I like to refer people I respect and know will do a good job so that they will make me look good. I’d like to hear about your referral networking experience. Add a comment below to let know if it works for you.
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Toni Guffei is a Marketing Strategist who works with growing and changing companies to strategically manage their marketing. She is a member of BNI Knights in the Alberta South region.