Business networking is a proven way to grow your business. This strategy has been formalized by numerous organizations where members provide ongoing business referrals to other members. The rules or policies vary, but for the most part, these organizations:
Allow only one business per industry
Have some structure to monitor the referrals
Meet on a weekly basis
Limit the number of missed meetings
After belonging to a couple of these groups as a business coach, I have observed some consistent mistakes that small business owners have made:
No strategic plan - Without a strategic plan of who does what by when, these individuals are working harder not smarter.
No marketing plan - The marketing plan is the why for joining a particular group
No target market identify - A lack of clarity of the potential prospects keeps solid referrals from happening
No marketing message - A poorly crafted elevator speech does not help the small business owners explain the value of their services.
Not understanding the other members’ products or services - The elevator speech provides a quick insight into a small business, but to truly understand the business requires spending some time with that business owner. This understanding allows both parties to make better referrals.
Not understanding the basics of referral networking - Referral networking is to develop mutually beneficial relationships through the act of making referrals. When a member expects to receive referrals, but does not make referrals, he or she is violating the purpose of the group.
Not researching the networking referral group - Members of the group may not reach the small business owner’s target market. Hence referrals will be limited to non-existent. Every group should be researched to ensure that there is a good potential to reach the designated target market.
Business referral networking is a great business building strategy. Just make sure you have done your research so that you give and receive the referrals for everyone’s business success.