If you are like 70% of businesses, you are leaving serious money on the table.
Why? Because you don’t have a system to proactively get more referrals.
Did you know that over 85 percent of leads come from word of mouth?
It makes sense, especially in this increasingly online world. People want to do business with people that they know, like and trust. It can feel like buying something online is like spinning a roulette wheel, you just don’t know if the person you are hiring will be able to do the job.
Relying on referrals makes it much more likely that you’ll find someone who can do the job for you. And, it stands to reason that leads that come through referrals convert 30% better than cold leads because the trust level is higher.
However, even if you are very well known in your community, just relying on your prospects to remember you when someone asks them for a referral isn’t a decent long-term strategy. You need a system to stay top of mind so that when someone asks for a referral, your name is the one that gets mentioned. In fact, according to the Wharton School, companies with a solid system for generating referrals experience 86% more growth.
Want to generate that kind of growth in your business? Here’s how our clients use Connect 365 to build a referral network that keeps them top of mind for their prospects.
Small Business Referral Statistics
Finding the Right Referral Partners
The question that comes up most often when we coach clients on creating a massive referral network is:
“How do I get started when I don’t know *anyone* and I don’t want to seem spammy by reaching out to my friends and asking them to refer to me?”
The key is to create a referral network that your prospects want to join. One way to do that is to focus on a specific group for your network. Two focuses that work really well are either building a location-based network or a network based on your particular niche.
Geographically based networks are great for any business. People are always wanting to connect and refer with other local businesses. An added bonus is that you can network with a wide variety of businesses - the common thread is where you live. We’ve found that this type of network works very well for brick and mortar businesses and real estate agents but also for health coaches, insurance agents, financial advisors, etc.
While local networks are great, if you live in a very small town (where you quickly run out of leads) or a very large city (where people are inundated with requests), you might want to make your network less about geography and more on your specific niche.
To do this, think about the other professionals your prospects need. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you could target mortgage brokers, handymen, contractors, painters, home stagers.
But, you can also get more creative… and target midwives, wedding planners, career counselors and more. If you are a web designer, you could connect with copywriters, SEOs, graphic designers, programmers, etc. The possibilities are endless.
3 Steps to Creating an Effective Referral Network To Get More Referrals With Connect 365
Step 1: Identify Your Best Referral Partners
Now that you’ve decided what type of referral network you want to build, the first step is to brainstorm about people who would be a good fit for your initial outreach.
- Who has audiences that overlap with yours? (i.e. copywriters and web designers)
- Who is in your city or state? Even if you are building a niche-based network, reaching out locally is often a great place to start because you have something additional in common.
- Who does your prospect need to interact with either directly before or after they use your service? For example, mortgage brokers are a good referral for real estate agents.
- Who else is your audience paying attention to? Are there any podcasters, bloggers or other influencers who share your audience?
Step 2: Start Making Your List of Potential Referral Partners
Now, that you’ve created your “ideal prospect” for your new network, it is time to start making a list of people to connect with and ask to join. The good news is that you can likely find at least a handful of people from your current contacts.
Here are some places to start looking for network members:
- Your first degree connections on Linkedin. You can usually find someone’s email address by clicking the contact information link on their profile.
- Members of Facebook groups related to our niche or local area.
- Your email contacts.
- Members of other geographic or niche related service or networking groups
Once you’ve gone through your personal contacts and make a list of initial people for your initial outreach efforts, it is time to reach out to other prospective contacts.
It is easy to use LinkedIn to search for and connect with possible referral network members.
The steps to connecting with possible referral partners on LinkedIn are:
2. Send a simple connection request. Attach a short note that says something like “I ran across your profile on LinkedIn and I think we should connect”
3. Get their email address. Once the person has connected, click on the “contact information” link on their profile to find their email address.
You can also use other tools to find their email address.
4. Upload your potential referral partners to Connect 365. Add their name and email address to a simple spreadsheet to import into Connect 365.
Step 3: Invite Them to Join Your Referral Network With Connect 365
Once you have a list of people who might be good potential referrals, it is time to reach out and invite them to connect with you over the phone.
The first step is to send a series of emails to invite your prospects to join your network and to have a brief “getting to know you” call.
We have templates inside of Connect 365 for this specific purpose that you can add with a click of a button.
To access the templates inside of your account click “Campaigns” in the main nav and then select “Use Template.”
From there you can select from our gallery of templates to use.
Attracting Referral Partners Through Outreach Campaigns
In this instance we would select, “Referral Network Partner Playbook”, from the list of templates.
As you can see, this message is intended to be casual and come off as a personal email sent directly to them.
Once you select this campaign you will be able to immediately update the campaign schedule or cadence and tailor the message with details specific to you and your business using our email editor.
It’s important to remember that this is NOT a sales or discovery call, the goal is learn more about the person’s business and also to tell them a bit about what you do.
If it seems like a good fit, tell them that you will send any referrals you find their way and hope that they can do the same for you.
Another strategy to make your connection requests even more effective is to create a LinkedIn or Facebook group for your referral network. LinkedIn groups are easy to manage and provide an additional reason for people to connect with you.
Check out our post on how LinkedIn groups can help you reach more prospects and increase your sales opportunities.
Getting Your Network to Actually Send You Referrals
Most referral networks don’t end up resulting in a lot of referrals. Members start out with the best of intentions.… but at the end of the day, chances are the next time someone asks them for a referral - your name won’t be the one that comes to mind. We call this referral amnesia.
What’s the best cure for referral amnesia?
Staying top of mind.
That is where Connect 365 can help.
Using Connect 365 to Stay Top of Mind with Email
Many business owners drop the ball on regular communication with their referral network when they get busy or have a full client pipeline. One of the primary reasons your referral network members forget about you is that they aren’t hearing from you on a regular basis.
Connect 365’s email automation software helps you stay in touch with your network through automated thoughtful and consistent message sequences. Because you’ve connected with them on LinkedIn and perhaps spoken with them on the phone, they’ll be more likely to open your messages and remember you when someone asks them if they know anyone who does X?
The key is to communicate consistently. You don’t want to spam, but also don’t let months go by without a connection with you.
Stay Top of Mind Through Consistent Social Media
In this era of full to overflowing inboxes, how do you stand out? We recommend a layering your email marketing with consistent automated social media posts. When you initially ask someone for a connection, they will usually check out your profile to learn more about you.
A fully filled out profile with a steady stream of professional and relevant content will position you as someone worth referring. Since you’ve connected with your network on LinkedIn as part of your initial outreach, your content posts will show in your network’s content feed and you’ll stay top of mind. Connect 365’s social media service that is colluded for all members, Emphatic, can save you hours of work each week finding and posting content that your referral network will enjoy.
You can also stay top of mind by posting the posts from your content feed into your group to keep your prospects engaged and build top of mind awareness with your audience.
Are you ready to start building your referral network?
If so, congratulations, you are on the way to achieving consistent growth in your business. Connect 365 can help with the three phases of building an automated and effective referral network.
- Connect 365’s proven training programs and coaching can help you to save time by helping you to fine-tune your perfect prospect profile. We can also help you create messaging and positioning that will make your prospects eager to connect with and refer you to others.
- Our automated email software will send targeted and consistent messages so you stay top of mind with your prospects.
- Layered with email messaging, our Emphatic social media will boost your authority because your members will be seeing your consistent and professionally curated posts in their social media feeds.