How to get 100 referral partners to drive your business

Anyone who has any experience in running their own business understands how important word of mouth advertising can be in regards to growing your business.  What better way to prove your worth as an independent service provider than if one of your current clients recommends you to others in their industry?  Referrals do not have to just come from your current clients, however.  There are many other opportunities for referrals that can be quite easy to reach with a little time and effort on your part.

The first step to building a referral network is to identify your target market.  This seems like an obvious step, but it’s often over looked.  If your target market is new start up businesses, think like a new business owner.  You are ready to take your big idea and turn it (hopefully) into a successful business.  What do you need?  Where will you go for help?

Identify ten different sources the new business owner would need to get their business off the ground.  They would need a bank to process payments.  They would need a business license.  They might join the local chamber of commerce.  They will need computer equipment.  They have to order office supplies.  The list goes on and on.

Once you’ve identified ten sources the new business owner is going to rely on, do a little investigative research.  Find ten people in your target market that provide these services.  Then one by one make the effort to know these people.  Visit your local office supply store and introduce yourself to the manager.  Join the local Chamber of Commerce.  You would be surprised at how often the new business owner will ask these sources if they know of anyone who provides the very service you provide.  And even if they don’t ask, if you are friends with the local bank teller, what’s to say they would not just mention your name when they find a new business owner in front of them that might benefit from your services?

Do not let your relationship with these people be one sided.  Find out details about the services they provide, and refer them to your clients as well.  A good give and take relationship can be beneficial for both parties.  You should be able to get a good idea fairly quickly as to whether your new contact will refer people to you.  If they do not fit the bill, remove them from your list and approach another in that field.  When you get ten solid referral partners- again it’s a partner because its give and take- then you have suddenly built your referral bubble to include 100 solid professionals.

With a little work and some creative thinking you can quickly build your network, and do so much faster than you could have built a lasting relationship with 100 clients that will refer you to their colleagues.