I am convinced that we (collectively) have barely scratched the surface of the power of making referrals.
The odd thing is, we all KNOW that the person-to-person referral is THE most powerful driver of business. So why is are referrals so often the exception rather than the rule in our business development?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with selling, and marketing, and on-line communications, and network-building – all of it is necessary – but if the most effective engine of business growth is referrals, then why isn’t that our primary focus?
My business is now almost entirely referral-based. It was actually built from the ground-up that way. Here are 5 things I’ve learned along the way:
- The most critical way to build a referral business is to create deepening connections with quality people. No shortcuts. This is a long-term commitment.
- Add value continuously. Introduce others. Make referrals and recommendations. Pass along information. People who add value remain top-of-mind.
- Pro-actively get together with quality people for coffee or lunch or a virtual conversation over Skype. I don’t care if it’s a stretch for your comfort zone. I’m an introvert, and I do this constantly (and enjoy it). If you’re pro-active, you immediately stand out – so few actually take steps to build quality one-on-one relationships.
- Have a very clear message about your offering that another person can easily grasp and pass along. If you can’t be clear on what you do, they can’t be clear on how to refer you. Aim for 10 words or less (a verbal business card). No obscure biz-speak.
- Create a referral fee structure for connecting people with new business opportunities. You don’t think this will work? Talk to me some day. Your network, and your efforts to connect people, have business value.
How much time, and effort, and money is expended trying to drum up new business? Yet how often does it boil down to one person saying to someone they know, “hey, I know just the person for that!”
This morning, I have a call scheduled which may lead to a new business opportunity. Referral. Two days ago, I booked a workshop that I’ll be facilitating next week for a pharma client. Internal referral from one of my existing contacts. That Clarity Therapy session with a new client a couple weeks ago? – referral from an existing pharma client. On-line radio interview a few weeks back? Referral (thanks, Brian!).
In fact, successful vendor “matchmaking” recommendations made months ago yielded deposits of referral fees this month that…well, made me very happy. And cover mortgage payments.
Can we change the odds of succeeding in business – especially for solopreneurs and small companies? I think so.
One of my life goals is to create a high-quality professional referral network that will lead to growing new business opportunities for all of its members (and their networks). The proof-of-concept for this – my pharmaceutical client-vendor referral network – has been generating referral fees for 7 years by addressing the need for “matchmaking” training professionals with optimal outsource vendors. This template can be replicated in any number of other industries where a business connector can bring together parties by means of trusted referrals.
Think about what you always take with you, no matter how your professional roles change. That’s right – your high-quality referral network. You build it, you benefit yourself and others from it. No-one owns that network but you. And it’s your ticket to success.
If people know you, and trust you, and understand what you offer, you’ve enrolled in Referral U. Let’s make the most of it.
(btw, if you haven’t subscribed yet, you’ll love my Clarity Blend weekly e-newsletter – check it out here)