Professional Development

8 Simple Ways To Build Your Referral Network

I’ve outlined below 8 simple things to remember when building your referral network.

So, you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to increase the number of referrals you receive in order to grow your business – smart move.  The “million-dollar question” is how do you increase the number and the quality of those referrals?  I’ve outlined below 8 simple things to remember when building your referral network.

8 Ways To Build Your Network

  1. Have a clear understanding of what it is you can do for a client and be able to clearly articulate to your referral sources in 90 seconds or less.  The better you can tell your referral sources how you can help their clients the more referrals you will receive.  Same goes when attending networking events.  It is critical to know your strengths and be able to communicate them effectively.
  2. Schedule time each work day to develop and nurture your referral sources.  This can be spending time at networking events, brainstorming for new sources of referrals, reading trade or industry news, taking your referral sources out for lunch, etc.  The key is that you have to build referral activities into each day.  It must become part of your personal culture.
  3. Always look for personal introductions.  Getting a name or phone number is great.  But, just like in dating, how often has that ever turned into a face to face meeting.  Instead of settling for names and numbers ask your referral sources to make a personal introduction.  How about over lunch or coffee?  Personal introductions are so much more powerful and you’re more likely to get a chance to get a follow-up appointment.  If your referral source is reluctant to make that personal introduction at least have them warm up the referral by calling and letting their client know that you will be calling/contacting them.
  4. Look for win-win situations.  Networking and referrals can NOT be a one-way street.  Yes, you want to get as many good referrals as you can.  But you also want to look for situations where you can help your referral sources in return.  In order to be successful, you have to be as good a giver as you are a receiver.  Do your homework, keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to refer your clients or acquaintances, be a good neighbor.
  5. Anticipate needs of your network.  Read the papers, watch the news.  You need to understand what is happening in the world and then look for ways that these events will impact your network.  Once you’ve done that you can then look for ways to help.  Whether it’s through your own services or referring someone else’s, you’ll earn good will and help someone in your network at the same time.
  6. Follow up with your referral source.  Send them a thank you note after they’ve made the introduction.  Keep them informed on how things are going.  If things go well they’ll be more likely to refer more business to you.
  7. Be professional.  This seems so fundamentally simple but it bears repeating.  Be professional in the way you interact with your referral sources and be professional in the way you interact with the prospects they send your way.  Trust me on this one, it’s the only way to go.
  8. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Networking and building a robust referral system is not a one-time event.  There is no magic behind it.  It is something that needs to be done consistently over time.  Making it part of your everyday business activities will help you become a better networker and ultimately lead to more referrals coming your way.

Summary

Building your business and developing a robust prospect pipeline takes time, but it is key to growing your practice.  And, as we all know, if your business isn’t growing, it’s probably dying.  Take the time to work on your business, to develop referral sources and find ways to help your clients and those in your network.   It’s not overly difficult but for some reason many find other things to do that seem more important.  Make referral nurturing part of your everyday life and you will see the rewards.

Tim Allen is an experienced professional services marketing professional with broad experience in strategy creation, branding and business development. Mr. Allen has held top marketing positions in both large, national CPA firms as well as smaller, regional firms where he has been instrumental in creating and implementing a firm-wide marketing culture. He has written and presented extensively on the intricacies of services marketing and is currently writing his first book on the transition from college to career and creating your personal brand for the millennial generation.

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