(btw….I don’t usually use such hype-filled headlines. This one is a blog traffic experiment. Although, it’s also entirely true…! :>)
I’ve made a boatload of money over the last 7 years doing something most of us do for free.
I make referrals. Trusted, targeted referrals, matchmaking people with resources they need.
We all know how vital a referral is to gaining new business. What is more powerful than a recommendation from a trusted source? How much more valuable is a referral than all indirect and non-personal forms of promotion?
Yet we often think about referrals very one-dimensionally. In fact, we’re leaving some of the most powerful revenue potential of referral-making on the table.
When is the last time someone paid you for connecting them with a valuable resource in your network? We willingly pay for advertising. We pay salespeople. We pay Google. We pay sports agents. We pay affiliates. We pay brokers. We pay Match.com and eHarmony.
We have payment plans for everything but the most effective strategy of all – the professional, personal referral.
How much time and money and effort have you invested in building your professional network? Do you ever stop to realize what an incredibly valuable asset you’re building?? And if you are able to help me solve my business needs with a targeted referral to someone in your network, guess what? One, or the other, or both of us should gladly pay you a referral fee.
My initial business (Impactiviti) is a vendor-client “matchmaking” consultancy in the pharmaceutical industry, where my hand-selected vendor/partners pay me a referral fee for each new (revenue-generating) client business opportunity I bring them into.
The client wins – they get a well-targeted provider (I also provide my expertise to the client side at no charge). The vendor/partner wins – they get new business in their sweet spot based on a trusted, third-party, intelligent recommendation. And when they both win, I win. By being the one who can put the pieces together.
Because networks, and domain expertise, and trusted referrals have VALUE.
We’ve tended to embrace the notion that referrals should be earned (by providing great value), but also should be free. And that structure does work, and work well – on a one-dimensional level.
But here’s what I see – vast numbers of entrepreneurs and small businesses whose biggest challenge is acquiring new business. And if they can band together and serve as Connection Agents – helping each other find targeted new client opportunities, with a reasonable and mutually beneficial professional referral fee structure – what’s not to like? We can not only be each other’s colleagues and friends – we can also be agents. Helping to overcome the most frustrating challenge in business – inefficient new business development processes (esp. for solopreneurs and small businesses).
I (very gladly!) wrote a couple of referral fee checks last month for friends/colleagues who recommended my Clarity Therapy service to people they know. Who won in this arrangement? Everyone – all three parties. And will those new clients also make referrals? Make a guess… :>}
Anyway, that’s the kind of network I’m building – not only in pharma, but now much more broadly.
You’re a professional, building a network that is truly a gold mine of information, resources, and potential referrals. A large amount of the networking and connecting I do has no referral structure attached to it, but it’s all aiming toward the potential of helping who-knows-how-many-people find new opportunities. And some of those opportunities can be a win-win-win gold mine. That’s three-dimensional referral networking.
You can’t do everything, and you can’t be everything. But you can be a matchmaker, and suddenly your network becomes your most powerful asset.
This isn’t just theory, folks. It’s money in the bank. Literally.