Building a robust and active referral network can be one of the most impactful things you do for your small business. Although many of the ways we do business have become digital, word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways that you can grow. Your customers and business connections can be your best form of marketing. Particularly for industries where many of your day-to-day interactions with customers remain interpersonal, you can tap into the professional network in your area to take advantage of the power of referrals. Let’s dive into how you build a referral network with other professionals in your area and then keep track of your connections.
Before you can see the benefits of a referral network, you have to establish your connections. This is where business to business networking comes in. Regular business networking creates a time and space for you to connect with other professionals in your area. Like building any relationship, establishing your professional network takes dedication and shared interests. Look for other professionals trying to establish or maintain their referral networks. A referral relationship works best when you can both benefit.
Once you have a referral network in place, you’ll begin to get referrals to your business from your professional connections. It may be a client or friend of your connection, or it may even be a total stranger. However your new customer finds you, keep track of it. Knowing how and where your customers hear about your business is vital information that helps you decide where to spend the most time and resources.
If you’re getting traffic from your referral network, keep track of who it’s coming from. Do you get a lot of referrals from certain industries or areas? Are there specific connections in your network who do an excellent job of giving out your information? You can track this information in a spreadsheet or CRM — somewhere you can easily find and update your data.
When someone sends a customer your way, you should always acknowledge your referral connection. There are a number of ways to thank a connection for sending you a customer. Find a method of acknowledgement that works for you and your business. You can send a hand-written thank you note or even an email. If a referral connection reaches a certain number of referrals you can reward them with branded merch or a gift card. And the best way to reward a referral connection for sending you a customer is to return the favor. Keep an eye and ear out for any of your own clients, friends, or family who could benefit from services offered by your connections.
4BR hosts networking groups that are designed to establish and maintain connections between professionals in your area. Members of a group that spans industries meet regularly to build relationships and continue their professional education. You can join a 4BR networking group in your area to start building your sustainable business referral network.