Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them. However, this is not how things work.
Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.
Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability. Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability. That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.
By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.
Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing. “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around. It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!” If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.
You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another. To get referrals, you have to perform. If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need? You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you. Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.