So you’ve decided to commit to a referral marketing strategy for your small or medium sized business. You’re going to receive those highly qualified referrals and you’re going to give them in return. You’re ready to give, and you’re ready to receive with like minded professionals. Great. Now you have to establish that base. You can join a group like BNI, or you can go the custom route, and create your own referral marketing base. The tricky thing, is how do you do that? Do you scour the yellow pages and see if you can get some meetings with organizations or people who you think there might be a mutual beneficial relationship with? Also, how do you know which kinds of businesses are better suited inside of your sphere? We’re going to give you some tips to establishing a solid network….
Focus on businesses or people who compliment your business well. Don’t hook up with someone or an organization that doesn’t do anything remotely similar. You can expect little to no referral action between you. As an example, if you’re a web development company, consider a printer as a good referral partner. You both work in marketing and communications. How about a promotional items company? Maybe a company that specializes in direct mail? Maybe a freelance graphic designer? How about a public relations professional, or a social media consultant? Your best bet is securing people in your network that work inside of the same space. If you’re a real estate agent, getting a meeting or working your regular social network for a mortgage broker, a housing inspector, or an insurance company might be a good idea. Hopefully this illustrates the point well.
How do you seek these professionals?
Determine who you’d think might be a good match, and then seek them out if you can’t get immediate access to someone you know, or someone who knows someone who might be a good fit. Work your regular social network. I use Linked In regularly, and this was an essential part of my kickoff with establishing my Canadian referral marketing base. I looked at all of my connections, and sought the candidates I wanted to secure through my existing connections within my city. If I didn’t know them directly, I’d check out my connections’ profiles to see if there was anyone in their list that I could get an indirect introduction with. I picked up 3 candidates I was seeking this way, and when I introduced myself to them, we had the person we knew in common, which created a warm initial contact. Another good way to get this started off is of course looking at your existing client base.