I always get a good chuckle when people tell me they have a referral network of 500+ people. Usually right after they mention this, I ask them how many jobs, from how many different people, have they gotten leads from over the last 12 months, and how many of these people have they pro-actively referred jobs to in the last 12 months?
It’s funny how many people have come to believe that referral marketing, creating a good referral program and being a good referral networker is all about meeting people, collecting business cards and building a large database of “contacts”.
The truth is however, there’s a big difference between simply having a large list of contacts and having an effective referral network. One usually discovers the most effective referral marketing program, referral system or referral networks are limited in their size. Why?
Most people working to build a referral program or referral system do so in hopes of generating referral business or referral leads. But simply meeting people and collecting contact information and connecting through LinkedIn, doesn’t build trust, or any shared referral lead commitment. Too many professionals working to build referral networks forget the 3 core principle of building an effective referral network or referral group…
1. Find ideal, non-competing referral partners that sell into the same market you do. These people will have the most inherent / natural referral lead opportunities.
2. Make an effort to learn about your referral partners and build reciprocal trust through regular communications. No one refers someone they don’t really know, trust and like.
3. Look to give leads and yee shall receive them.
Implementing these 3 principles means you CAN’T have a network of 500 referral partners, it’s not possible, because each person in your network is highly targeted and requires a certain amount commitment and effort on your end.
Remember it’s not the size of your network that counts it’s the quality and commitment of your referral network or group. An active referral network that includes 25-30 “real” referral partners will always out perform that “hollow” network of 500.