If you are a local business professional looking to implement a cost effective small business marketing program or guerrilla marketing program there’s probably nothing you can do that will be more effective than building a referral network and launching a referral marketing program.
Of course everyone wants to have a referral network that generate more referral business, but why do some business professionals succeed with small business networking while others fail? Whats’ the secret to cultivating a strong referral program that brings in new business?
There are 2 major things to consider when working to building an effective small business referral network and referral marketing program…
First - understand that the best people to network with are other business owners or professionals that sell non-competing / complimentary products/services to the same market you do. This lends itself to inherent or natural referral lead opportunities. For example, if I’m an electrician, my ideal referral partners might be a general contractor, a plumber, a handyman and a bathroom/kitchen remodeling specialist, etc… Or, if I’m a physical therapist, my referral network might include a massage therapist, physical trainer, holistic practioner, chiropractor and so forth… Every profession or professional has optimal, or ideal, referral lead partners. These potential partners will present the greatest referral lead opportunies for you, and visa versa. Look to network and connect with these partners. You can join a leads group (a business networking group) or referral network, or work to build your own list of partners through small business networking.
Second follow this golden rule or mantra, “Familiarity + Trust + Giving = Referral Leads”…
Let’s tear this mantra or rule apart and you’ll start to understand how to cultivate an active referral lead program and referral network.
First Familiarity – People in your network need to be really familiar with what you do. It’s pretty hard to refer someone if you don’t know what they do, what services they provide, who their best customers are, what makes them special or unique, etc…? Look to help others who are part of your network fully understand what you do and the services / products you offer.
Second Trust – No one wants to refer someone to a customer or prospect unless they have a certain degree of trust in the person they are referring — they want to feel confident they are dependable, friendly and provides good service / value. Build trust with your referral partners and network through regular communications. Trust is built through repitition and dependability.
Third, Look to GIVE! – Perhaps most important, people start to feel a since of gratitude and reciprocal responsibility as you give to them (generate a lead for them). In the world of small business networking you’ll quickly discover that your inbound referrals multiply in relation to your effort to generate referrals for others.
It’s not surprising that the majority of professionals who fail at small business networking, building a referral network or implementing a referral program fail because they never really did much for those in their network. While those who followed the simple rule or mantra of Familiarity + Trust + Giving = Referral Leads grew a powerful referral network and referral marketing program.
If you put these simple principles to work for you, within a short period of time you will have an active referral lead network that’s generating plenty of new business.