Education Plus Preparation Equals the Best Resultsstring(50) "Education Plus Preparation Equals the Best Results"

Some years ago, I had a conversation with a BNI Director who made an interesting point of comparison between appreciating opera and learning to use referral marketing in your business. They said, “The best way to experience opera is to see it on the stage, and the best way to use word-of-mouth is to put a referral marketing plan in place. In either case, the novice may not know where to begin.”

We started talking about a system to generate business through referrals and just like opera, if you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself. Preparation is key to success. Central to the referral marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do – what product or service you make or provide; how, and under what conditions, you provide it; how well you do it; and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors.

You absolutely must communicate this information to your networking sources. And to communicate effectively, you must first know those same things. Before business professionals map out their referral marketing strategy, they need to take the time to get a clear picture of where their business currently stands.

That BNI Director told me that when people begin to learn and study opera, they start with basic works by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini before moving on to more complex works by composers such as Richard Wagner. In the same way, when marketing your business by word-of-mouth, there is a place to start before you meet with the people in your network. You begin by preparing answers to these basic questions about yourself and your business:

  1. Why are you in business?
  2.  What do you sell?
  3.  Who are your customers?
  4. How well do you compete?

The ability to communicate this information to your referral sources and prospective customers will be invaluable as you begin to build your network and formulate your plan to gain more and more business the most effective way–through referrals.

Once you master some basic tools, you can move on to a deeper understanding of the process for networking success, including:

  1. Have a positive and supportive attitude and provide a positive and supportive environment for other businesspeople.
  2. Learn how to use networking tools effectively, including your business cards and an informative name badge; and have a business-card case or app to hold others’ cards.
  3. Networking is an acquired skill that requires continual learning. Watch videos about business networking, listen to podcasts, read books and articles on the topic, pick the brains of great networkers, and then implement and practice what you’ve learned.

Along with my website, you can also get great information on this subject at I highly recommend that you become familiar with the basic tools of referral marketing and implement them in your business so that you can begin to watch it grow. Because, just like appreciating opera, if you don’t begin with the basics, you won’t experience the optimum result.

If there is an educational resource which you’ve found to be especially valuable and effective in learning to network, share it in the comment forum below so others might benefit from it as well. 




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How Much Time Should You Spend Networking for Your Business?string(60) "How Much Time Should You Spend Networking for Your Business?"

Do you know that people who say networking played a role in their success spent an average of 6.5 hours a week networking, and got half of their clients from their networking time? However, people who did not invest as much time networking also did not report as much reward. So, how much time should you spend networking for your business? I share more in this video.

The secret to getting more business through networking is spending more time doing it!  Well, it is a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things. However, devoting the necessary time is the starting point. So how much networking time should you spend developing your personal network and what kind of results can you expect to see?

The Survey Results

Based on a survey that I helped to write and conduct of over 12,000 business professionals from every populated continent in the world, we have a definitive answer to those questions. The study found that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.3 hours a week participating in networking activities. On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.  

Clearly, the people who spent very little time engaged in the process felt that networking was not an effective way to build their business. As with many other aspects of life, you definitely reap what you sow. It’s no wonder that the people who didn’t invest as much time also did not realize as much reward. This demonstrates the direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you will likely receive from it.

Building Relationships

An emphasis on relationships first was clearly and undeniably a key factor in determining whether people were going to identify networking as having played a role in their success. When we looked at the responses from all the survey participants who said that networking had played a role in their success and then compared them to those people who focus on relationships first, we discovered that the majority of respondents who felt they’ve achieved success through networking also felt that it was better to build the relationship first and then focus on the business. Consequently, business professionals who focused on the relationship first and the business second tended to do better than those who focused on the business transactions first.

People who skip the relationship building and attempt to establish an “all business” interaction often discover that trust and goodwill are more than just window dressing – they are part of the social capital that energizes a mutually rewarding business relationship. People who bypass relationship building are more likely to feel that networking has not contributed to their success, and they are probably right – because they’re doing it wrong or at least not doing it enough.

You may be reading this and thinking – OK, I now know that I need to be spending at least 6½ hours a week networking. Well… that’s true IF you want to be average (and what successful businessperson wants to be average?)! On the other hand, if you would like to be above average – you need to devote more time than that to the cause.

The optimum amount of business networking time is more likely to be 8-10 hours a week if you want to be one of those people that are generating well over half their business from referrals.

When you invest about 8-10 hours each week networking for your business, and you have a focus on building strong relationships, you’ll be on your way to networking success.

How much time do you spend networking each week?  More?  Less? What percentage of business do you get from your networking efforts? Share in the comments below.

Your Follow-up Can Help OR Hurt Youstring(35) "Your Follow-up Can Help OR Hurt You"

Let’s talk about the importance of following up with business contacts – both when and the why are important. What you do, or don’t do, can make a difference in your business success.

I recall an interesting conversation I had with an associate who was surprised when they received some criticism from one of their referral sources because they had waited five days to follow up with a prospective client that the referral source had referred to them. My associate explained to me that she didn’t like to follow-up with prospects for four or five days because she doesn’t want the prospect to feel like she’s too eager.

I told my associate that I strongly disagreed with her follow-up strategy. I shared the following reasons with her about why I disagreed.

When to Follow-up

When building relationships, it is always important not to let much time lapse without making the first contact. Within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, send your prospect a note expressing your pleasure in communicating with them. It is still too early, though, to send business literature or make any move toward sales promotion.

Follow-up early without pushing beyond the prospect’s comfort level. Once the potential customer has expressed an interest in your products or services, provide information for them without forcing it upon them. Continue presenting your products or services, while avoiding the hard sell. Instead, focus on fulfilling their needs and interests. Your goal should be to keep your prospect aware of your business without annoying them.

Remember, to secure the long-term loyalty of your prospect and convert them into a client, you must first build a relationship, and that relationship must develop through the visibility, credibility and profitability stages. It may take a while, however, if you have selected and educated your referral sources well, it will help speed up the process.

Always, always, always remember to follow up with people, in any situation, at the very least within seventy-two hours. There’s a reason people commonly say that the fortune is in the follow-up . . . when you follow-up quickly with people, your reputation will benefit, your business will benefit, and eventually your bank account will benefit as well.

Do you have some unique and effective ways of following up which have helped you attain success consistently?  If so, please share them in the comments below. 



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What is an Active Networker vs. a Passive Networker?string(52) "What is an Active Networker vs. a Passive Networker?"

I once had a conversation with a businesswoman who was fairly new to business networking. I was explaining that networking is a contact sport – it requires people to get out there and actively and strategically build relationships. At one point she asked, “Well, what exactly does that involve? . . . What defines ‘active’ networking?”

This is a really great question because it opens up a discussion about what it means to be an ‘active’ networker, and also what it means to be a ‘passive’ networker.

Active Networking

Actively networking with others means you invite those people to one or more of the networking organizations you belong to; you carry several of their business cards with you all the time; and above all, you refer them to others whenever you have an opportunity to do so. Active networking also means having a reciprocal relationship with the people in your network.

Think about it – we prefer doing business with people who do business with us. Why give your business to someone who’s not willing to return the favor? There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of competent, dependable business professionals in your area who provide any given product or service. They don’t have to buy something from you to reciprocate. They can join one of your networking groups, carry your business cards, or simply refer you to people looking for your product or service.

Passive Networking

Passively networking with others means that you use them as a resource occasionally but for some reason cannot actively network with them. It may be because they represent a narrow market where you have no way of assisting. Perhaps they’ve told you they’re not interested in participating in any networking organizations. Maybe they’re located too far away to refer to them regularly.

With this understanding of the difference between active networking and passive networking, you can strengthen your networking strategy in these two ways.

  1.  Identify the people who are members of your information, support, and referral network components.
  2.  Look for the voids and weaknesses in your network, and work to improve and fill them with valuable members.

Now that you know the difference between active vs. passive networking, I recommend that you strengthen your networking strategy by pinpointing one person this week with whom to actively and strategically build a stronger professional relationship. What can you do to begin to form a connection with them? I welcome your comments.

Tips to Make the Butterfly Effect of Networking Workstring(52) "Tips to Make the Butterfly Effect of Networking Work"

Years ago, I was in the Caribbean, relaxing on Necker Island where I was meeting with 20 business leaders including Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways and owner of the Island.

My journey to that island is a dramatic example of “The Butterfly Effect of Networking,” a theory that a small action in one place may have a ripple effect that creates a dramatic action in another place. It is like a pebble in a pond creating ripples on the surface. For networking, it is about how a seemingly minor connection or conversation with one person may, after many ripples across the network over time, end in a dramatic connection later in the process.

This is my story…

It started several years before that Caribbean trip when I received a phone call from a woman I did not know; her name was Kim. Kim asked if I would be willing to help with the creation of an online networking and social capital community. It took some work to put this together, but at the time I had no idea what type of ripple effect this request would have on my life. I agreed to do it because it fit the values and direction that I wanted to take my company in. And with that, the ripple began.

This relationship turned into a strategic alliance, which turned into a speaking engagement, which allowed me to meet Jack Canfield (co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), which led to an invitation from Jack to participate in an international organization called the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC), which led to meeting a woman by the name of Nancy who owned an ethics training company. Getting to know Nancy led to an invitation for me to spend five days on the breathtakingly beautiful Necker Island where I met financial wizards of business, movie producers, and successful business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson.

Since that first visit, I have had the opportunity to go back to Necker Island several times, and it has occurred to me that an important part of the reason I was able to make such effective and rewarding networking connections was the way that I thought about, and therefore went about networking.
Here’s what I mean by that . . .

While it’s important to know the right things to do while networking, it’s equally important to start thinking the right way to make your networking efforts as successful and dynamic as they can be. This involves altering your mindset. Here is an in-depth look at some elements you will want to include in your mindset to ensure networking success.

Tips for a Successful Mindset

  1. The law of reciprocity or Givers Gain® approach.

Don’t approach networking with thoughts of ‘I did this for you, now what are you going to do for me?’ Instead, think about the old adage ‘Give and you shall receive.’ The law of reciprocity takes the focus off of what you stand to gain from the networking relationship, and in doing so, creates bonds based on trust and friendship. Put it to the test. You’ll be amazed by the outcome.

  1. Diversity in networking.

To have a powerful network, branch out. Build a diverse network of professional contacts with people from different ages, backgrounds, and occupations. People who don’t look like you, sound like you, or have the same interests and hobbies as you are likely to be connected to others that you may want to meet. Look for groups that don’t target people just like you. In this way, you’ll broaden the net you seek to cast for referral opportunities.

  1. Maintain a Farming mentality.

It’s a long, drawn-out process to go from seeding a field to harvesting the crops, and there’s no quick return. However, when you invest your time to cultivate new relationships and take care in building them, your networking will yield extraordinary results. Approach business networking with a mindset that focuses on the process of cultivating referrals. A farming mentality instead of “hunting” for referrals will position you for success.

The ripples that take place in the networking process may not be clear when the pebble drops into the water and the ripple begins. What is certain is that there is a ripple. If you follow that ripple and make the most of the contacts that you meet during each stage of that journey, it can lead you to make connections and create relationships that may very well surprise you when you look back to where the journey first started.

Do you have a story about the butterfly effect of networking? I’d love to see it in the comments below.




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What is the Best Way to Follow-up?string(34) "What is the Best Way to Follow-up?"

When I taught management-theory classes at a college in Southern California, students would sometimes say to me, “You just walked us through ten different theories of management. What’s the best one to use?”

My answer, “The one you consistently apply.” 

Why would I say this? The reason there are different ways of managing people is because people are different. They have different personalities, different approaches, different preferences, and different techniques. The tried-and-true method that you will consistently and effectively apply is the one that is going to work best for you.

Follow-up in business networking is a similar issue. When you get a referral from someone, when you meet someone new,when you receive a gift, when your invited visitor attends your networking meeting, or you tell someone, “I’ll send you their contact info,” your follow-up is a crucial part of building a business relationship and maintaining your credibility.

For example, I know that handwritten notes are considered to be one of the best ways to follow up. The challenge for me is . . . I just don’t do them consistently. Therefore, are they really the best technique for me? No, they are not, because I know I’m not going to do them regularly. I prefer to follow-up with an email message, a phone call, or better yet an online-card using something like the system.

Two Templates for Follow-up Notes

Here are two sample templates that you can use with email or a hand-written note that will make it easy for you to follow-up with new contacts.

  1. Follow-up with people who may become valuable contacts in the future:

Hello Jim–

My name is John Smith, and I’m the consultant who met you the other day at the Chamber of Commerce event. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed our conversation–and it sounds like you’re really doing well and staying busy.

Anyway, it was good talking with you, and if I can help you out in any way, please let me know.


  1. Follow-up with people who might become new clients or referral partners right now:

For email, use this subject line: Nice to Meet You–Chamber of Commerce Event May 23rd

Hi Jim-

My name is Jane Smith, and I’m the consultant who met you the other day at the Chamber of Commerce event. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed our conversation and was hoping I could learn a little bit more about what you do.

I’m thinking we can get together for a quick cup of coffee. That way, if I run into someone who could use your services, I can point them in your direction. How does next Tuesday morning sound for us to meet at the ABC Coffee Shop?

Again, it was great talking with you, and if I can help your business in any way, please let me know.


One more tip: 
Regardless of whether you choose to use these templates when writing follow-up notes, always be sure to first remind the person of who you are and where you met so your note doesn’t get instantly discarded.


Most businesspeople love working with someone who is considerate, and your personal follow-up is an easy way to show how considerate you can be. Your follow-up technique can leave a lasting impression on someone who may not have thought you were memorable at first. Remember, thoughtfulness always counts in the end.

The truth is, almost any follow-up method will work if you use it well and consistently. The best method for you is whichever one you are most comfortable with and can do every time the need arises. 

The reason is simple: whatever you do, you’ve got to do it well, and if you feel obligated to keep doing something that you don’t like to do, you won’t do it well–at least not consistently. A late-arriving or half-hearted note in your own messy handwriting is going to make a worse impression than a “less proper” but more heartfelt and immediate phone call.

Have you found a follow-up method that works well for you? Share it in the comments.

Networking Without Follow-Through Is a Waste of Timestring(52) "Networking Without Follow-Through Is a Waste of Time"

Smart, enterprising businesspeople know the importance of networking and how it can be a huge opportunity to increase word-of-mouth marketing and gain business referrals. However, one of the biggest mistakes people can make is failing to follow through.

This story came from one of my employees several years ago and I think that it serves as an important lesson to all of us on how networking without follow-through is nothing more than a waste of time.

Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent . . . and the guilty.

The Story

My employee, whom we’ll call Winnie, needed the services of a graphic designer to assist her with the creation of a website for her father’s business. She attended a local networking mixer where she met Blake, a graphic designer, who seemed excited about the project and claimed he could accomplish exactly what she needed at a very reasonable price.

They exchanged contact information and connected the next week by phone to discuss the project in further detail. Winnie was pleased with Blake’s ideas and liked the examples she had seen of his work. She told him he seemed like the perfect person to help her with the project and that she’d like him to send her a price quote as soon as possible.

A week passed and Winnie heard nothing from Blake. When she called him to ask about it, he said he was working on a quote and gave her a lame excuse about being busy. Another week went by and, again, nothing from Blake. While Winnie was frustrated, she was still willing to give Blake another chance because she really did like his work. She sent him an email and left him a voicemail saying that she would love to give him her business and was anxious to hear back from him.

The End of the Story

Well, after two weeks had gone by without any response from him, Winnie found another graphic designer. To this day (as far as we know), Blake has never responded.

And Yet…

Here’s what blows my mind . . . I know for a fact that this guy, “Blake,” was still frequenting local networking mixers (which cost money to attend, by the way) trying to drum up more business. Yet when he had money practically sitting on the table in front of him, he failed to follow through. No matter what his reason was for not getting back to Winnie–being too busy, too lazy or whatever else–he shouldn’t be out there networking if he can’t follow through on what he claims to be able to deliver. He is wasting his time (and money) and, more important, he’s wasting other people’s time–which is only earning him a bad name and reputation.

Who spends countless hours networking hoping to fail and see zero results from their efforts? That’s right, no one! I find it astounding that people single-handedly sabotage their success; they guarantee their own failure by failing to follow up with the contacts they make.

If you don’t plan on following up, don’t plan on showing up. The moral of this story: If you aren’t prepared to follow through, networking is a complete waste of time.

If you have a “Blake the Flake” story of your own, I’d love to hear about your experience. Share your story in the comments section.




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Businesses Not Growing Are Dyingstring(32) "Businesses Not Growing Are Dying"

Similar to the way a plant needs to keep growing to stay healthy, businesses need to keep evolving to stay alive in the market. If a business stays stuck in one place, they risk falling behind their competitors, losing touch with their customers, and eventually fading away. I invite you to watch this video for more.

If a business is not growing, it is dying. If it’s not growing, it is certainly stagnating. Building a trusted network that is both wide and deep connects you with people who can help you grow your business.

Tips for Summer Networkingstring(26) "Tips for Summer Networking"

It is summertime in the northern hemisphere, temperatures are rising and so are your summer networking opportunities!

I sometimes hear BNI members say that their chapter slows down during the summer months. I also know LOTS of chapters that flourish in the summer with new members and referral growth! So why are some up while others are down? It starts with a choice to have a positive attitude; deciding that a slowdown is not inevitable. Then it is a matter of adapting to the season by refocusing on referrals during your networking activities.

Look at your calendar. What summertime networking activities are you attending? Some of these may not seem like obvious networking activities, however, successful networkers know to always be prepared.

  • Backyard Barbeque
  • Neighborhood or City-Block Parties
  • Pool Parties
  • Picnics
  • Ball Games or Sporting Events
  • Music Festivals
  • Reunions
  • Other Summertime Fun: Golf, Boating, Traveling, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping, and Gardening

BBQ / Block Party Networking

Whether you are going to a neighborhood block party for a holiday celebration, or a more intimate birthday party for a family member or colleague, barbecues are a great chance to meet friends of your friends and expand your professional network.

Make the most of your own family backyard gathering. Bring a few sample products to the barbecue to give out to family and friends. Who is better to help spread the word about your business? If you are so inclined, ask attendees to bring a new friend with them to the event. More than likely, some family members will show up with uninvited guests anyway. Use these opportunities to get to know people and share what you type of customers you are looking for. Remember, you don’t know who they know!
CAUTION: Don’t give a sales pitch at a neighborhood party or barbecue – not ever. People are there to have fun, relax, and enjoy.

Pool Party / Picnic Networking

Remember that a good networker has TWO ears and ONE mouth and uses them proportionately! Listen to what everyone is saying at your summertime activities. What topics are they mentioning?

Are they complaining about their business? Invite them to visit your BNI chapter.

Are they excited about a wedding? Share information about those members in your chapter that are good referrals for them.

Do they talk about their home being too hot in the summer and it costs too much to cool? Offer to introduce them to the HVAC or solar power member in your chapter.

Do they want to remodel their home or need to move into a new home? It’s referral time! Start by asking how you can help and offer to connect them with professionals that you know.

Ball Game / Sporting Event Networking

A great networking strategy is to get tickets to a local ball game or sporting event and invite fellow BNI members and potential referral partners that you know to attend and then you can introduce them to each other. Whether your team wins or loses, great connections can be made!

Music Festival Networking

The hills are alive with the sound of networking. Music brings people from all different types of professional backgrounds together. Networking through all of the music and dancing at a festival will be a challenge, but it can prove to be invaluable. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal – utilize networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking and building a mutually beneficial relationship, so don’t overlook anyone.

Networking at Reunions

Summertime is when there are lots of family reunions and class reunions. These events are typically a gathering of dozens of people who, despite the fact that they took various different professional paths, automatically have a great deal in common and genuinely want to see one another succeed. If you’re looking for a job, a career change, some industry advice, or even if you’re simply hoping to network within your field, attending your reunion could be just the ticket. The question is not whether you should attend your reunion, but how you will network effectively at the reunion.

The Four-hour One-to-One Networking Foursome

If you are a golfer, find a fellow BNI Member who also plays golf. Set up a round of golf and you each bring a favorite golf-playing client to introduce to each other as a referral source for the other BNI member. What a great way to solidify a top referral source and score a ‘hole in one” referral yourself with someone else! Again, this is not the time for a sales pitch – it’s about building relationships.

What if you don’t play golf? Think about another summertime activity you like to do that you and a fellow member can invite clients to. Think Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping, or Gardening. Or YOUR personal favorite.

Any place you go with family, friends, or strangers is a networking opportunity!

There are so many opportunities for networking throughout the year – including summertime. You can use these tips in your own community and while traveling on vacation, too.

  • Always have your Business Cards with you. Bring your fellow BNI members’ business cards with you to all your summertime events, too.
  • Remember your fellow members and make a goal for yourself to find at least one referral for a member of your group at each event you attend.
  • Think about the people you have met at these types of events. Who can you invite to your business networking meeting and bring them as a visitor?

Here’s to a GREAT summer in the Northern Hemisphere filled with lots of networking opportunities and referrals! For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere – revisit these tips in December or adapt them to the activities you’re doing now.

I’d love to hear your stories about networking at events like these. Share them below, thanks!

2024 Founder’s Day: A Day of One-to-One Meetingsstring(50) "2024 Founder’s Day: A Day of One-to-One Meetings"

In 2021, I began a tradition called “Founder’s Day” which is a day where I meet with BNI members from around the world in individual One-to-One meetings. I love the opportunity that our current technology gives us to have video conversations and connect with people from other places.

For this 4th Annual Founder’s Day on June 27, 2024, I would love to have a global BNI One-to-One day! Watch this short video for more info.

I invite all BNI members and Directors to schedule at least one 1-2-1 with a fellow member on Thursday June 27, 2024.  It’s a great way to learn about your referral partners and business associates. One-to-One meetings help build strong relationships and move us forward in the VCP Process®, from Visibility and Credibility toward Profitability.

Have you had a 1-2-1 with a member from another BNI Chapter? Perhaps you want to reach out to someone in another region or another country who is in your profession or who is in a business that is complementary to yours.

The 2024 Founder’s Day application period has passed, and I have already scheduled my meetings with the BNI members who were selected.
However, we currently have more than 326,000 BNI members worldwide. I personally invite you to participate by having your own One-to-One meeting with another BNI member on the same day.

Tell me about your June 27th meeting (or meetings😊) on my social media afterward. How many BNI 1-2-1s will take place globally on Founder’s Day 2024?
I am excited to find out!




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10 Simple Ways to Create Referrals for Lifestring(43) "10 Simple Ways to Create Referrals for Life"

Referrals play a role in the success of every business, and establishing lasting referral connections is essential for any sustained growth. Referrals tend to yield much better results in bringing in business to a company compared to other lead generation methods or marketing strategies. When someone refers your services or products it comes with a recommendation that boosts the likelihood of converting connections into sales.

According to a Nielsen global survey of 29,000 people, 84% of those responding said they prefer “recommendations from people [they] know.” In fact, that was the number one selection relating to the question: “To what extent do you trust the following forms of advertising?”

Building referrals for life is not an event or a quick solution; when done right, it should be a process rather than a one-time endeavor. Networking is an enduring investment that demands effort and dedication to nurturing relationships with your referral partners.

10 Recommendations for Cultivating Referrals for Life

  1. Cultivate a mindset centered on referrals

Above all, it’s crucial to adopt a focused on generating referrals when networking and fostering connections.

When you prioritize assisting others over focusing on your immediate personal gains you develop a relationship-building mindset that values helping and supporting people. By being attentive to others needs and seeking ways to aid them in reaching their objectives you can establish the kind of trust that allows people to feel comfortable referring business to you.

  1. Build strong relationships

Establishing connections is essential for fostering referrals. To build these connections, it is crucial to embody authenticity, honesty and reliability. Being a listener, demonstrating an interest in others and following through on your promises are key aspects of nurturing strong relationships. While building connections requires time and dedication, my own experiences have proven that the effort invested pays off in the long run.

  1. Educate your network

Educating your network is an often overlooked aspect of the referral process. To cultivate referrals, it is important to educate those within your network about your business and its offerings. This involves more than making a sale; it entails equipping your network with the knowledge they need to refer your business to other people. By helping them grasp what sets your business apart and how you can benefit others, you are effectively conveying the value you provide to clients or customers.

The more your connections understand your business, the simpler it will be for them to recommend you. It’s crucial to approach the process of networking with the mindset of training a sales team (or referral team) rather than solely focusing on closing sales.

  1. Deliver exceptional service

Delivering great service plays a vital role in generating long-lasting referrals. When you provide exceptional service, your clients or customers turn into your advocates. They are more inclined to refer you to others because they have faith in what you do and the value you provide. Providing service involves exceeding expectations, anticipating your client’s needs and fulfilling your commitments.

  1. Ask for referrals

Once you have established credibility with someone (which takes time), it’s important to ask for referrals. While this may seem straightforward, many business owners overlook asking for referrals from individuals they have relationships with. It’s beneficial to make it a routine to seek referrals from clients or customers. When requesting referrals be specific about who you would like to be referred to and why.

It might sound counterintuitive, but being more specific can actually make it easier for your clients or customers to recommend you to others.

  1. Give referrals

One way to get referrals is by giving referrals yourself. When you refer someone, it creates a quicker potential relationship for both parties involved. It demonstrates your willingness to assist others and also enhances the chances of receiving referrals in return. Make it a practice to actively look for opportunities to recommend businesses that share your values and standards.

  1. Stay connected

Touch points are critical. Keep connected with your network by following up with them. This could be done through emails phone calls, social media interactions, face-to-face meetings, Zoom or Skype calls. By staying connected you keep your business at the forefront of their minds. It also shows that you value the relationship beyond business transactions. You can also utilize this opportunity to inform your network about products or services, upcoming events or any updates within your business.

  1. Leverage social media

Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, X (Twitter) and Facebook all serve as tools for maintaining existing relationships and sometimes even establishing new ones.

Using social media is a way to connect with potential clients or referral partners, share valuable content, engage in industry-specific groups and stay updated on the latest news and trends. It’s important to interact with your followers by responding to comments, liking and sharing their posts and initiating conversations.

  1. Attend networking events

Attending networking events is an opportunity to meet people, establish and nurture relationships and generate referral possibilities. Look for events tailored to your industry, chamber of commerce gatherings or business conferences that align with your objectives. When you attend these events remember to bring your business cards, dress professionally and have a clear and concise elevator pitch that highlights the value of your business.

  1. Show gratitude

Expressing gratitude when someone refers you to a client or customer is essential. You  can show appreciation by sending a thank you note, a gift or offering a discount on your services. Demonstrating gratitude strengthens relationships and leaves an impression that may result in more referrals in the future.


By incorporating these strategies into your networking efforts, over time you can cultivate lasting referrals that contribute to sustainable business growth. Keep in mind that building referrals is a commitment that pays off over time and demands ongoing efforts.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Failstring(26) "Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail"

Choosing to put your time and energy into networking for your business is one of the best investments you can make to secure future success. However, if you are networking without a plan or strategy, it really is a lost effort. I share my thoughts about it in this video.

Networking works. It’s simply a matter of developing a strategy, following your plan, and taking action to achieve your goals. Remember, if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail.




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