Do You Just Have A Referral Network ...
Or are you part of a referral community?
Posted on: 16/10/2013 By: Jacky Sherman
I was analysing my blog statistics with Steffi Lewis of sblogit.com the other day and noticed that I got the most shares where the title had the word ''networking'' in it. Fine, except that my mission is about building communities, which is so much more than just networking ...
A community of like-minded individuals has a vested interest in seeing each other succeed whereas your network are mostly in it for themselves!
So what’s the difference? The Oxford English dictionary gives the following definitions:
A network is a group of people who exchange information and contacts for professional or social purposes.
A community is a group of people with a feeling of fellowship with each other, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
In the image above, I drew the two models side by side to help clarify this difference and explain why referral communities add that extra something that produces better results for your referral marketing. What do you notice when you look at those two pictures? Some things which struck me were:
The community approach switches the focus to your clients. Your over riding aim is to introduce people who can help your client with needs other than those you can provide yourself. This adds value and strengthens that all important relationship. Between you as partners you can build up a real presence for service and value within your common target market.
In the modern world of social media it is easy to develop a broad and wide ranging network of contacts. It is equally easy for this to become overwhelming. Let’s face it most of those relationships are pretty superficial. It simply isn't possible to maintain all these relationships to any depth. Reducing this down to a core group of 7-8 people suddenly makes it all simpler and much more manageable.
Maintaining a large referral network eats your time if you are expecting all these people to keep you front of mind and spot referrals for you. Also if you haven’t had time to brief them carefully then you’ll find them referring inappropriate referrals to you which won’t turn into real business. You may also find you are investing in people whose main focus is elsewhere. Investing in a small group of people who you know are committed to the same aims as you, share similar values and understand your type of ideal client will save you time in accessing your ideal clients and in the sales meeting to produce real business.
We often underestimate the importance of having others around who support, encourage and who are “in our corner”. Most telling from this model is that whilst you are the centre of your network you are not the centre of other people’s network. It is quite easy to be lonely within a crowd. A community on the other hand is centred around the collective sense of purpose to support and help the group to succeed.
Now does this mean that you only interact with a few other people and don't need a wider network? Well no; a large diverse network has lots of purposes in business. Your network keeps you informed, enhances your sphere of influence and generally adds to your reputation in the wider business community.
Your network is also a highly valuable part of your contribution to your referral community, with a plethora of contacts and potential clients for both your partners and yourself with new partners being developed all the time.
This week's tip for successful referral marketing is to develop a wide ranging network. Out of that, identify those people who share a common type of client and start developing a true referral partnership with a maximum of eight of them until you have your own referral community.
This will enhance the value you provide to your clients and give you a constant flow of work with your ideal clients, as well as some strong personal support for a fraction of the time you'd invest if all you did is go networking.
If you would like to become part of one of the referral communities I facilitate, or are thinking of starting your own community and would like some help then call me on +44 (0) 7970 638857 or click here to ping over an email because a community of like-minded individuals has a vested interest in seeing each other succeed whereas your network are mostly in it for themselves.
Until next time ...
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