Business Referrals Help You Survive The RecessionThe recession and weakened U.S. economy has taken a toll to some degree on all business globally. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I’m sick and tired of words like “bankruptcy” and “foreclosure” and “recession”.

I had the opportunity to sit down with a local partner in my own referral network, Tristan Hannington, of K6 Media in Ottawa. We usually get together for lunch at least once a month, outside of our regular Friday morning meeting, as we’re both part of an Ottawa chapter of BNI called BNI 212 in the city’s east end. Tristan sends my business, Creative Nod, quite a few referrals over the course of the year for SMB web site development and SEO audits. Although his business specializes in printed vinyl vehicle wraps, wall and window graphics, and business signage, many of his clients are seeking assistance with their business’ web needs.

Ottawa’s local business landscape has seen the variety of sign shops and printers disappear through the course of this 2008-09 recession, and Tristan reiterated his belief that his referral network through BNI was something that definitely assisted maintaining a steady course through, what was for many of his competitors, a difficult period of marketing and communications retraction, lessened business, and bankruptcies. Also, interestingly enough, he found that consumers that were referred to him in this market, were highly informed, certain of what they wanted, and almost all became clients with long term potential that put a high value on his work. According to Tristan, there’s been fewer instances of referral customers, since the recession began, who’ve been interested in negotiating. In his opinion, referrals have delivered better customers, ESPECIALLY because of the recession.

This got me thinking about the effectiveness of joining a group like BNI if you’re in a hurry to establish your network or get your referral marketing initiative off the ground. These are built in/turnkey referral groups, and although not tailored compared to if you built your referral network from scratch and on your own with independently selected partners, they’re still great. There’s a tonne of groups and events that you can join locally or even nationally that are a similar.

Back in March of this year, Make A Referral Week was established as a recession deterrent, aiming to deliver 1000 referrals to small business across the continental the United States, which they achieved. BNI, as well as a handful of other major corporations, sponsored the initiative, and it’s ideas like this that have enabled SMBs everywhere to hold the bottom line and even grow in market where consumers are spending less. This adaptive and creative attitude – thinking outside of the box of doing business traditionally – is essential for success in whatever it is that you do.

WomenPartner International is another example of a pooling of professionals – on a global scale – in an effort to refer business. Referral Quest is another organization, like BNI, that creates memberships and chapters.

Managing multiple referral networks can be daunting in your effort to keep your business moving forward when times are tough, but it doesn’t have to be. This is where a tool like Hello Referrals can help.