You have likely heard the metaphor birds of a feather flock together. When you think about it in relation to business, it can leave you at a disadvantage. While it's beneficial to build business relationships in your own industry, it's crucial to establish a business referral network outside of your industry too. This opens a plethora of doors and opportunities that your own 'flock' is unable to. By expanding your reach with business by referral, you'll see more success with your business, find professional development opportunities, and create lasting, fruitful relationships.
When you look up the word 'network' in the Merriam-Webster dictionary you will find that when used as a noun, it is defined as an interconnected or interrelated chain, group, or system. When used as a verb, it is defined as joining (things, such as computers) in a network. A strong business referral network is like a railway or a subway system that consists of connecting lines that run in different directions but are joined together. If you have no connecting lines, it can't be defined as a network. Creating and maintaining those lines in all directions is the key to maintaining a strong business referral network.
Business referrals are built on professional relationships between individuals or businesses in different industries that can benefit each other. It's not sensible to establish referral relationships with your competitors, because it defeats the point of providing referrals. You wouldn't recommend your closest competitor to a potential customer. Often business owners in the same industry are familiar with each other from attending conventions and seminars. While these are great relationships to form, they won't help you extend your business reach. After all, they are targeting the same audience you are.
As every business professional knows, word of mouth is a powerful tool for growth. Creating a robust referral network can help you accelerate that growth. Having contacts in industries, areas, and networks other than your own dramatically increases your outreach, allowing you to take advantage of an entirely different customer base than your own.
The more extensive your network, the more success you'll see with referrals for your business, finding professional development opportunities, and creating lasting, fruitful relationships. The more you're referring interested customers to your networking connections, the more inclined they'll be to do the same for you! Supporting one another in building your businesses is one of the most rewarding ways to maintain your network.
For a dedicated, referral-based networking group in your area, consider 4BR. We have dozens of networking referral groups that are designed to support your business with referrals. Check out the benefits to 4BR membership