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referralsWhen business owners are asked how they build their business, 99% of the time they say, “Referrals, of course!”.

This is no surprise since most small businesses don’t have a huge marketing budget. Instead, most subscribe to the idea that networking generates referrals, and referrals generate new business.

Sometimes that does in fact happen. However, when I work with my clients to look at what’s really going on, they realize that there are gaps in the flow of business realized through so-called referrals. The time, effort and money spent to network and hopefully generate business is sometimes out of whack. Too much time spent for too little return. And that’s the starting point for developing a networking strategy that does work, and does generate new business.

One of the core principles of relationship building — which is the point of networking — is that it takes time and devoted attention to do well. Another consideration is that earning referrals is much more effective than just asking for them.

How do you define of a good referral for your business? What are the important ingredients in the referrals that you receive to make them a home run? Do you want your referral source to arrange an introduction between you and the referred party? Do you want expectations clarified? What form of follow up works best for you?

If you haven’t taken the time to define your referral criteria, it’s a good idea to give it some thought. If you truly believe that referrals are the source of new business for you, why wouldn’t you take the time to define what a good referral is, and share this thinking with your referral sources?

When you develop a referral process that works for you, you can repeat it over and over. Once you know how referrals work best for your business, you can educate your referral sources so that you spend less time chasing, pursuing and stalking referrals. Pursuit might be fun in the dating game, but not so much in the game of business.

Because I am dedicated to helping business owners generate business through solid referrals, I am offering a free copy of my book, Building Business Referrals during the month of December. Just e-mail me Lorraine@lanebc.com with “book” in the subject line and be sure to give me your address so I can put the book in the mail to you – no strings attached!

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