We all tweet and blog; we all have a website, and most of us are involved in all sorts of other online networking. But that’s not enough when you’re a small business: You still have to network face-to-face.
And joining a referral group is an excellent way to do that and so much more.
Referral Networks are incredible places to meet people who can provide valuable business insights, training, help in developing elevator pitches, and teach you how to introduce yourself to people at events and draw prospects in.
When you join a group, don’t look at the other group members as potential clients, use this approach instead:
- Educate members about your company
- Learn about their companies
- Listen to any criticism and make improvements
- Pass Leads (this takes time: you have to get to know and trust one another first)
- Follow Up with them to cement relationships
I keep this mentality with my network because I don’t necessarily want to do business with you—I’d like to do business with your clients.
That sounds mean-spirited, but it follows a certain logic: If we only go to the network to do business with one another then we have a finite amount of opportunities. But if I educate you about me and you educate me about you, then I can actually provide a good referral for your business.
Here’s an example: Let’s say Dan Gallo calls me for a security consult. I meet Dan and while working on his issue I remember Mr. X who can use Dan’s services. I refer Dan to Mr. X and he gets his problem solved by Dan. We all win and here’s why: Dan gets a client, Mr. X gets a problem solved, and I further my position as a trustworthy person.
In many cases business is still done based on who you know, so it stands to reason a good reference is worth more than a Facebook “Like” or another Twitter “Follower”.