Case Study – Improving the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network

Situation:

It is a given these days that if you are a business owner you need to be networking as a part of your marketing plan. Where you network, how much time you should spend networking, and what results you should expect all vary with you, your business, and your competition. If you are in a business that sells exclusively to other business then you should be networking where other business owners congregate. This would include chambers of commerce and their events, BNI groups, and special after hour’s gatherings. Of course there will be other people there who you will not ever do business with and who only want your contact and customer information. What should you do?

Analysis:

1. Decide early on what type of businesses you want to sell to and work with.
2. Look for business owners who are successful at what they do. These folks get it as far as networking and referrals go.
3. Do not try to make a sale with every handshake. You make people not want to talk to you and your hand gets tired.
4. Golden question – How can I help you make more sales?

Solution:

The way to be more effective is easy. Always ask how you can help the other person. Ask if there is someone in your circle they would like to be introduced to. Ask if they know of a special event that would help their business meet more clients or buyers of their goods and services. Get their business card and write down whatever they tell you on the back of the card. (This is why the backs of business cards should be blank and not on glossy paper.) Then, follow up with either a business name or business owner’s name. ASBC recommends using what we call the e introduction. This is an email sent by you to both of the parties concerned introducing them to each other. It also includes any information you have on the business (current client, friend, business affiliate) and then recommends the action step you believe appropriate for them both. An example of this would be a new store owner needing an alarm system. You introduce the store owner to your security company that you recommend and explain this is a new store and you recommend they work with the security alarm company that you have vetted and recommend.

Always remember that you will be judged by the types of business you recommend to other business owners. Be cautious in recommending someone just because they have a company that does a certain business. You must vet businesses you recommend as they are a reflection of you and your business.