Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Networking Skills: Learn From Other Businesses In Northants

Referral marketing courses are action learning at its best ...



When I went to University as a mature student, I always felt I learnt as much in the coffee breaks as I did in the classroom. As adults with a wealth of experience, we were able to discuss, challenge and reflect on what we were learning and consider how to apply it in the real world of our work ...

During my referral marketing courses, the participants learn to trust each other as well as learning an awful lot about each other's business!

During my referral marketing courses, the participants learn to trust each other as well as learning an awful lot about each other's business!

In a pure form, this learning process is called 'Action Learning'. Where people work and learn together by tackling real issues, advising each other on what to do and then reflecting on their actions as a group then revising their actions as a consequence. There is a whole host of literature on the subject that's easily available online.

When I'm working with small groups, I apply some of the principles of action learning to my training programmes.

Most of what I train in referral marketing is pretty straight forward. What one of recent client called "the blindingly obvious" and then he added "that I haven't been doing". That's the crux of the issue, the doing.

The reality is that Referral Marketing is simple but the doing often isn't easy, because it frequently requires letting go of old ways and acquiring new habits. Not something we as humans are good at, as a rule.

Traditional training is known to get poor results in changing behaviour so here's three reasons that I think a more action learning approach helps:

  1. It's an affront to our self-image as an experienced adult

    As humans, our internal view of ourselves runs deep. We will go to great lengths to protect that image and will reject new knowledge if it is delivered in a manner that threatens that image. In the traditional training approach, the trainer is the expert with the solution, implying that the learner knows nothing. In an action learning approach, the participants retain their role as experts in how to interpret the information and create the plans.

  2. It's difficult to apply to our reality

    Each learner will have a unique set of circumstances, personality and past experiences that affect how they want to apply their new knowledge. A peer group is likely to have similar circumstances and have had different experiences, so are uniquely placed to challenge or offer alternative approaches.

  3. It's disheartening when we hit stumbling blocks

    It can be easier to just slip back into more familiar patterns of behaviour. A one-off training course doesn't allow for reflection or review of the plan other than what the individual chooses to do themselves. It's too easy for the training material to sit on the shelf gathering dust. A regular meeting with a peer group offers expert support and advice to tweak plans. Peers can also add in acceptable external accountability, often missing for business owners.

In our full referral marketing programmes, we apply the principles discussed above. We bring together cohorts of business people for a series of short regular learning sessions, adding some new knowledge or, more usually, reframing and revising what people already know but haven't applied systematically.

This is where the group always adds value. Each participant rehearses what they need to do in their business so they have a group of expert potential referral partners who can give them feedback, ask for clarification and improve their ideas. Each week the group reviews what has worked or not worked last week and then adds the next step in the process.

Then over the weeks of working together, the participants learn to trust each other as well as learning an awful lot about each other's business. As a result, they can give support and challenge each other as well as problem solve together.

After all, each participant is actually the very type of person who other participants are trying to motivate to refer to them. There is no better expert advice than that given by the person you are trying to influence. Small wonder that the result is that deep relationships develop and business opportunities for each other appear to pop out of the woodwork!

If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing in an adult atmosphere with an expert peer group then call me on 07970 638857 or click here to ping over an email, because working directly with the sort of people you want to influence is a great way to learn how to actually do it!

Until next time ...


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07970 638857