Many people don’t truly get the full value of a referral group. Some think they’re simply a method to try and get others to refer business to them. Learn to make your referral group your Business Networking Trainer and you’ll see optimal results…
(Article) Marketing & Referral Groups have been around for almost 3 decades. Their purpose and objective is simple — create a local business community where members actively work to get to know and support one another through referral. But, to get the most out of a referral group you have to follow a few simple guidelines…
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!
People sometimes ask me, “why not start a FREE leads group or referral networking club?” The answer is surprisingly simple — They usually don’t work!
One of the key elements for any leads group, referral networking club or referral marketing program to take root, proliferate and facilitate referral lead generation among the members, is commitment. Commitment to regular in person meetings, commitment to learning about one another/ supporting one another, and commitment to actively referring one another.
The vast majority of free referral groups that get started usually falter and fail as there’s a lack of real commitment by members. These referral groups tend to have very high turn-over rates, low meeting attendance and little referral lead generation activity — all leading to collapse.
By charging everyone in your community just a little something you tend weed out the “takers” (people looking to receive without giving), create a sense of value among the members, improve meeting attendance, lower turn-over rates and ultimately create more commitment to referral lead generation.
In the world of small business networking and referral marketing giving and getting referral networking commitment is key!
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.