Referral business networks and leads groups have existed in the offline (brick and mortar) world for a half a century. And during this period they’ve delivered consistent results for small businesses and professionals looking to generate referral business.
But with the advent of the Internet, how will these “real world” small business networks and referral communities fare — will they fade away being replaced by all the online business networking communities and solutions, or will they continue to prosper?
While online referral groups and business networks are useful and effective for some things, they’ll never replace the need for real world professional business networks and small business referral lead groups.
One big reason — people want / need / prefer regular face-to-face interaction with those they do business with, and certainly with those they refer for business. Studies consistently show that consumer confidence is the #1 factor that drives purchase decisions, and consumer confidence is created by familiarity, which is achieved through repitition. Meeting regularly, face-to-face, with your referral partners and referral network goes a long way in building true familiarity and confidence.
The most effective referral marketing programs will always incorporate regular real world face-to-face meetings with a committed group of referral or business networking partners. And this is something the online world can never deliver!