Most people are involved in at least two types of formal networking groups. The first is intraprofessional networking, or “Knowledge Networking,” as Megatrends author John Naisbitt calls it. Knowledge Networks foster self-help, information exchange, improved productivity and work life, and shared resources, according to Naisbitt, who cited networking as one of the ten megatrends impacting our society.
The second type of networking is interprofessional networking: multidisciplinary professionals and occupational types who network 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 good interprofessional networking, participants get either the majority of their business or their best business through referrals. Organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, and BNI® are typical groups in this category. Different groups offer different strengths and weaknesses in helping to generate word-of-mouth business and it’s important to look closely at the makeup and structure of the various organizations that you might join before selecting those that best fit your needs.
If you haven’t had much success in business organizations in the past, don’t let that get in the way of doing what needs to be done to build your business through word of mouth today. 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 one person at a time, which inevitably means you’re going to be working harder, not smarter.
The only people who are going to make referrals for you consistently are people who know you and trust you: your friends, associates, customers, patients, clients, peers, and family members. Strangers are not going to consistently give you business. You need to start spending time with the right people in structured professional environments.
If you’re interested in building your business through referral networking, here are four tips to help you do it efficiently:
- Join several different types of networking groups and diversify your word-of-mouth activities.
- Develop your company into a Hub Firm, a firm that other companies rely on to coordinate efforts in providing effective services.
- Don’t be a cave dweller. Get out and meet other business professionals in the myriad of business organizations which exist for that purpose.
- The only people who are going to make referrals for you consistently are people who know you and trust you. You need to start spending time with the right people in structured professional environments.
Do you have any additional tips or tactics which you’ve found particularly effective in building a referral-based business? What has worked best for you? I would love to hear your insights so please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!