For business networking success, it is important to understand that referrals take place over time. In BNI®, we use the educational concept called the Referral Confidence Curve. It takes time to receive referrals from networking partners. There is little-to-no chance that someone is going to refer you if they don’t know anything about you. You have to invest the time to build business relationships before you can expect to get referrals from your network.
In my book, “Work Your Network With The 4Cs,” my co-author Dr. Oudi Abouchacra and I share how each of The 4Cs affects the referral quality and quantity within your network. We discuss how Competence, Credibility, Clarity, and Connectivity impact the Referral Confidence Curve and I’ll share more about each of the Cs in future blogs.
Initially, referrals start to happen on a limited and gradual basis. However, everything begins to change when the threshold, called the Confidence Point, is met.
The Confidence Point is depicted as the red X on the graph above.
This point represents a threshold that, once it’s established, changes the curve thereafter. When your network has complete confidence in you, referrals will begin to flow your way with a greater magnitude, and as a result, the curve steepens after the confidence threshold is reached. The Referral Confidence Curve assumes that when people are not confident in you, or your business, or your service or product, you’re not going to get many referrals. And when the Confidence Point is reached, referrals increase more steeply.
Quantity AND Quality
It’s interesting to note that not only do those referrals increase in quantity, they often increase in quality, too. When networking partners have confidence in you, they refer others to you with that confidence and begin passing higher quality referrals.
Whatever the type of your business, it will take time before people have enough confidence in your abilities to know that referring other people to you will not hurt their own reputation. Think about it – none of us want to give our best clients and our best customers as referrals until we know that the person is going to do a good job with them.
It’s common for networking group members to test you out, to see if you’re good at what you do. They may use your product or service occasionally to find out how well you do what you say you’re going to do. When a member uses you, that’s really important because they can then confidently refer you to their network. It helps you reach that confidence threshold much quicker.
Most professionals know that the results of the business interaction with a potential referral partner and/or their fellow networking member can lead to more referrals from them. They think: this is a friend of mine, I’m in a networking organization with them. I want to make sure and do a good job for them.
I learned this for myself years ago when I bought my house in Los Angeles, California.
I had a lot of work done on the house by a number of contractors, and almost all of them
were BNI members. However, there was one specialty contractor I hired because there was no BNI member for that category in my area. Afterward, I found out from one of the BNI contractors that the specialty contractor had asked the rest of them, ‘Why are you guys busting your butt so hard on this job? I mean, you guys are working really hard.” And one of them replied, ‘Yeah, well, this is the Founder of BNI. You know, we want to do a good job because he’ll refer us to other people.” And they were right, I did.
The key takeaways from the Confidence Point on the graph are that if you have not established confidence with your network, you should not expect many referrals. If you HAVE established confidence within your network, you should expect a steady stream of high-quality referrals over time. Remember, it is critical to your business that others have confidence in you.
Have you experienced more referrals after reaching the Confidence Point with your networking partners?
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