In today’s interconnected business world, networking plays a pivotal role in achieving success. There are two primary types of formal networking groups that most people are involved in: Knowledge Networking and Referral Networking. They each offer distinct benefits which I’ll share in this blog.
Knowledge Networking is also known as intraprofessional networking. It emphasizes self-help, information exchange, and resource sharing among professionals. It fosters improved productivity and work-life harmony. This networking style is influenced by the megatrend of information exchange impacting our society.
Knowledge networks have been around longer than almost any other kind of group – from the medieval guilds, to crafts associations, to today’s professional groups and industry associations. Some of these groups limit membership to their own industry. However, quite a few groups that represent industries other than your own will allow you to join as an associate member of their organization. This can connect you with a concentrated target market, including many top-quality contacts.
Referral Networking is interprofessional networking; it involves professionals from various occupations collaborating to increase each other’s business. In fact, the primary purpose of most interprofessional networking groups is to increase one another’s business through referrals.
In strong interprofessional networking, participants typically get the majority of their business, or their best business, through referrals. Organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry, JCI (formerly known as Jaycees), and BNI are typical groups in this category. Different groups offer different strengths and weaknesses in helping their members generate word-of-mouth business. It is important to look closely at the makeup and structure of each of the various organizations that you might join before selecting those that best fit your needs.
If your past experience with business organizations wasn’t as successful as you wanted, don’t let that get in the way of doing what needs to be done to build your business through word-of-mouth now. The best way to begin the process of building a referral-based business is in a group or groups of other business professionals. The only alternative is to meet with one person at a time, which inevitably means you’re going to be working harder, not smarter.
To effectively build a referral-based business through networking, here are four strategies to consider:
1. Diversify Your Networking Involvement
Join multiple types of networking groups to diversify your word-of-mouth activities. Engaging with various professionals widens your reach and exposure to potential clients and referral partners.
2. Embrace the Hub Firm Approach
Develop your company into a Hub Firm, offering coordination and connection with effective services that businesses rely on. Positioning yourself between other people’s networks allows you to become a central resource for other professionals and strengthens your position and referral potential.
3. Engage with Professional Organizations
Don’t be a cave dweller; avoid being isolated by actively participating in professional organizations that are tailored to networking purposes. These groups provide opportunities to meet and build relationships with like-minded business professionals.
You won’t get results if you are a member who doesn’t attend meetings or interact with fellow members.
4. Cultivate Trust and Connection
Building a referral-based business hinges on trust and connection. Invest time to cultivate meaningful relationships with friends, associates, customers and clients, peers, and family members. The only people who are going to consistently make referrals for you are the ones who know and trust you. Remember, strangers are not going to consistently give and refer business to you.
If you want to grow your business, you need to start spending time with the right people in structured professional environments. In a competitive business landscape, referral networking remains a powerful tool for success. Implementing these strategies can help your business grow.
What is your experience in Referral Networking and/or Knowledge Networking?
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