Referrals are the lifeblood of small business.
Long-standing agents will find that repeat & referral business amounts to 60-70% of their business.
Events hosted by professional associations, college alumni groups and your local chamber of commerce are the perfect opportunity to expand your network of professional contacts.
Networking leads to a direct increase in the number of referrals you receive for new customers, earning you new business.
Yet, small business owners rarely take the time to attend networking functions.
Here are 3 key reasons why networking for referrals makes great business sense (don't forget to thank/gift your referrer):
1. Referrals come to you pre-sold.
When a network contact sends you a referral, they’ve already done a good part of the selling for you.
• This is a fantastic concept if you don’t enjoy prospecting for new business...but, if need be, force yourself to prospect.
• With every networking event you attend, have a focused goal of meeting new people whose business contacts complement yours.
• With a robust network, you’ve got your own pro-bono sales force enthusiastically working for you seven days a week.
You couldn’t build a better sales team than that!
2. Trust is built a lot faster with a referred client.
A key buying motivation with every consumer is reducing risk/gaining trust...
• No one wants to feel they’ve made a poor buying decision,
• A prospect who has been referred to you sees you as a friend of a friend, so you are instantly viewed as trustworthy,
• A referred customer feels more comfortable during the buying process.
The social aspect of networking events is designed to build trust, rapport, and friendships among business contacts.
• When attending functions look for ways to assist others in their business-growth objectives, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by professionals eager to send business your way as well.
3. Referrals clone more referrals
For long-term revenue growth, nothing beats the multiplying effect of referrals bringing new business directly to you.
Your reputation for quality and integrity grows with each new “generation” of referred business.
• The loyalty factor helps protect you against the fads and gimmicks of your competitors.
Remember that each new referred client has their own circle of influence representing a new door of networking opportunities for you.
• Find out what professional or social groups your new clients are involved in and offer to provide a short seminar, presentation, or article content
for its newsletter.
• Your valuable insight will win you the enviable reputation of “expert in your field” within that group. When they need assistance, you’ll be the one they call.
The time you spend building relationships within your professional network pays off better in long-term revenue growth than any other marketing strategy.
• Thinking of networking events as an opportunity to put more money in your pocket (increase revenue).
• The old adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” certainly applies when it comes to networking.
To find great networking opportunities, keep an eye on the schedules published by your local professional association, chamber of commerce and business newspapers.
• Once you are at an event, talk to as many people as possible about your business; it may surprise you how often they need your services or know someone else who does.
• Dedicate time each week to meet with others in networking activities, and you’ll see your referral business grow in ways you never thought possible.