September 6

How Do You Build A Referral Network?


7K0A08685 Strategies To Win More Business

As a motivational keynote speaker, my favorite part of any keynote program is Q & A. That part of the program where anyone in the audience can ask me any question they want to ask me. I call it a “Hot Seat.”  In essence, my audience puts me in the “hot seat” getting the information and ideas they need to implement the information my keynote just covered.

This past week, I had one of the most powerful “hot seats” I have ever experiences. I was lucky enough to be the keynote speaker for the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s WomanUp event. We have more than 350 professional women coming together to build their network and expand their skills.

At the close of the one-hour long program, we did a “hot seat”, and I got over forty questions, specific to how to expand and build a network. First on the list was this question about how to build a referral network.

Just so we are all on the same page, let’s define a referral network. A referral network is a group of professional colleagues who send you clients (patients, customers etc.), market your skills and engage in helping you to grow your business.

Why do you want a referral network? Well in my opinion, a referral network is one of the most crucial strategies you need to effectively and efficiently grow your business. When another professional tells a potential client that you are the “go to” person for that service, well closing that sale is almost a sure thing. Traditional advertising is great, sales works too, but nothing is more powerful than getting others to refer you and send you business.

Then that just leaves the question:

How Do You Build A Referral Network?

1. Know Your Opportunities – To build an effective referral network you need to begin with understanding where your opportunity is. In other words, who can and who has the ability to send you referrals? You need to begin by doing your research, and create a list of who (both by name and profession) can easily send you quality referrals. That may mean that you need to back-up and define who is a qualified referral. This “hot seat” question came from someone in the dental industry, so let me use them as an example. If I am a general dentist, then a qualified referral may be someone who needs regular check-ups or needs a new dentist. If I am periodontist, then a qualified referral is someone who has gum disease. Once you know who your qualified referral is, you can better define who can send them to you. Again, the general dentist may go to primary care physicians or even realtors to get referrals. Where the periodontist would go to general dentists.

2. Make A “Value Add” Intro – Once you define who you can send you qualified referrals, you need to meet and engage with them. You need to get in front of them. However, you need to do it in a way that is more about their business then it is about yours. You need to make a “value add” intro. Whether you ask them to coffee, or do a ‘lunch and learn’. You need to find a way to engage with them so that they feel that their business is benefiting from referring to you.

3. Create A Process – Keeping up with a referral network is key, so you have to create a process. A system that allows you to consistently thank sources for referrals, touch base with them to see how things are going, find ways to add more value, and just in essence remain visible and top of mind. You need a process that reminds you what to do and when to do it. For example, maybe every quarter you take your referral source to lunch, or you drop by their office with a thank you gift. Perhaps twice a year you do an in-depth feedback session with them to see what is working and what is not. You get the picture. The idea is to create a process that allows you to nurture your referral network.

4. Apply The 80/20 – Apply the 80/20 rule that is. It is always, let me repeat that, always eighty percent of your business will come from twenty percent of your referral sources. Not all referral sources are the same, and it is your job to track and measure to determine where your referrals are coming from. Keeping up with and nurturing a referral system is hard work and it takes time. To get more efficient and effective, you need to make the number of referral sources manageable. Learn who sends you referrals, how many, and then nurture those referral sources that are the most lucrative.

5. Up Their Value – Always remember someone else, your competition that is, is also chasing and nurturing your referral sources. So, you need to find ways to consistently enhance the relationship they have with you and add value. Do things like send them referrals, keep them informed of exactly what happens with their referrals, provide ways to help them get education or CE credits. Lastly, talk and listen to them; value their ideas and opinions on how to make the relationship with you even more valuable.

Yes, building a referral network is one of your most powerful strategies to grow and enhance your business. Put these strategies in place, and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear your feedback, and gain your ideas on how to gain even more referrals.

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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