And I mean “In Love” – I have a special thing for Awesome Referral Networks where you work with great friends and refer business to each other. This story tells my reasons for this love affair and obsession.
Having just come straight back from the Northern Beaches of Sydney to write this article – I am very happy with a great business meeting I just had with the amazing Martha Arifin (from Trusted Web Expert) and Kat Tate (from Kat Tate Copywriting) where we are working out how to take our fantastic Strategic Partnership to the next level. In terms of Marketing Mentoring, Small Business Websites and Copywriting – us three have worked together for sometime introducing clients to each other and sending us work.
Our relationship has gradually developed over time, with us starting out by “Slowly” trusting each other with little stuff. I would send Martha a Website, Martha hired me to help her, I send Kat some Copy Writing work and we proved gradually that we can trust each other and our doing all the right thing by our respective clients.
Besides what I learnt during my Post Graduate Studies in Marketing at Monash University, the reality of being in business has taught me HOW HARD IT IS TO SELL!
Of course I am great at selling (only because necessity made me good at it) but that is not what I am referring too. Selling is fun, but especially when it comes to doing it all the time – it can be quite time consuming from start to finish. This is especially true when you have just met someone for the first time and they are completely “cold” (meaning no introduction or relationships). In the pure cold cases, it can be quite a lengthy process of building up trust, shared understanding and client knowledge – far before you could offer any products / services with a more than marginal probability of sales success.
This is the whole “Not So” Secret of having a great personal referral network. Instead of you having to spend your life running around selling hard, a friend of yours gives you an introduction to a potential client so before you even meet them AT LEAST 50% of the hard work is done. That I completely love and I am all for working hard but working smarter each time. Besides the ongoing advice that I give to my own clients and talking personally – the best clients and most easiest sales come from an introduction.
Using an example, say Kat Tate is working with a client – they need Strategy and they love Kat Tate. All she does is introduce me to them and because they trust Kat – her word gets me in there and makes my job nice and easy. Even though this sounds quite obvious and intuitive, I almost always find that very few Small Business Owners and Successful Entrepreneurs actually drive this process actively.
There is obvious commercial advantage into having your own Awesome Referral Network in that you get easier, better clients for less work! Hardly a secret and I think few create successful networks such as this because most “Assume it will happen naturally”.
I used to think this way and yes, I am the first one to say that that you MUST do great work and build a powerhouse reputation. This will work well by itself, but by actively driving the process, you can build great referral relationships faster so you can make more awesome money sooner. In the case of Kat and Martha – we are approaching clients together outside of 4Networking, I am doing Webinars with the fine Daniel Doherty (from MerlinFX – Online Wizardry) and using my own reputation to help him get results (and vice versa).
By having a structure, shared understanding and an outcome – this process can be greatly accelerated for maximum gain. This can include as per Martha, Kat & Myself:
1) Trusting each other with small work.
2) Encouraging each other to give referrals.
3) Actively meet and drive the process.
4) Build Sales Materials showing your Alliance.
5) Give and Take.
6) Make Money.
7) Do it with more ease!
This to me has been the basis of my many referral relationships and to point out as well (as much as I love 4Networking Events) – some of the best referral networks ARE NOT part of a Networking Group. Sure, it’s great visiting Networking Groups but ultimately the massive success comes to forming your own personal networking group (which we do advise people at 4Networking to do).
Going to a Networking Event doesn’t make me a Networker as much as jumping in the ocean doesn’t make me a fish – ultimately it’s up to us as Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs as to how we use those referral networks for our mutual commercial gain.
My advice? Go through who you know, like, who are “Allied Traders” where you have a similar target market but offer different services. Meet for lunch, work out how you can help each other trade and go for it. Get a few runs on the board, then go harder and harder. This is one of my favourite Marketing Strategies (especially when you are starting out and have little cash) as it can give you that great stream of referrals to make life super easy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and God Bless from Edward Zia – Marketing Mentor and Man who is “In Love” with Awesome Referral Networks!