Discover these important qualities that will help you develop lasting referrals to grow your business.
Think word-of-mouth marketing is dead? Think again. According to research from Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations from people in their network more than any other source. When applied to your business practices, referral partnerships are essential to continual growth.
Referral networks can bring huge value to your business. You may not know all the helpful connections your business contacts have (here’s how you can check your contacts’ connections on LinkedIn), so cultivating a strong referral network is important. It allows you to reach corners of the market that your business may not have been able to reach otherwise and to break through all the noise in the market.
There are two sides to every referral partner relationship. However, whether you’re recommending a client to another business partner or you accept a potential prospect from a referral source, it can be a daunting task. Your reputation, your business and your future success is at stake. As with any relationship, if you’re entering into a referral partnership, there are qualities that you should look for in a partner.
Here are five tips for finding a great referral partner:
1. Understand their needs (and your own)
At the core of any referral relationship is a mutual understanding of one another’s needs. “Partnership is a commitment to a strong relationship based on mutual regard for mutual success,” explains Nicholas McGill, CXO of Heroik Media. It is crucial that your partner understands your goals, values, mission and business needs for success to occur.
2. Be honest and transparent
A partner who is transparent and honest about their business practices will allow you to be confident and secure knowing that your clients (and most importantly, your reputation) are in good hands.
3. Communicate regularly
Stephen Key, co-founder of inventRight and author of One Simple Idea Series, explains that it is critical to maintain an open dialogue and recommends that “setting a recurring time and date will help facilitate talking about any problems that arise”. He also notes that it’s important to find a partner who knows when a situation requires a phone call, an in-person meeting or an email.
4. Strengths should complement the weaknesses
We can’t be great at everything, and when looking for a potential referral partner Key recommends “seeking out people who have different skill sets from yours.” Selecting a partner whose strengths complement your weaknesses, and vice versa, will make both of your business ventures stronger. Look for people who can connect you to different people than usual. Consider geography, demographics, industry knowledge or memberships, and who they’re already partnering with to ensure you’re reaching into a new territory.
5. Value experience and knowledge
When selecting a referral partner, you want to know that they have the expertise in their field to deliver results. Before entering into a partnership, take time to research your partner. Are they a thought-leader in their field? Do they produce regular content that shows they are at the forefront of their industry? Consider speaking with their current partners or customers to learn more about how their experience and knowledge has helped others.
Taking the next step…
Now that you know what to look for in a referral partner, you might be wondering where to start looking for potential new partners.
Ivan Misner, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI explains that “successful business people have the ability to select and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with high-quality people in strategically important business categories, and this ability is a core competency for maximum success in networking.”
Take the next step and begin reaching out to your network. And most importantly, keep an open mind. You never know who your dry cleaner, dog walker, or Uber driver might know.
Read more about how to leverage referral partnerships to increase your sales. And learn more about our Liquid Capital Partner Program if you are a commercial finance professional, a BDO, or a banking professional that is interested in extending your network.