Build Your Small Business With a Referral Network 4 Nov 2019


You love getting new clients, but you hate how much cash it takes to find them. By the time someone is ready to talk to you, you may have spent anywhere from $14 to $71 converting them.

The high cost of customers is increasing. A survey of small businesses found that 91 percent were expanding their advertising budget for 2019. With prices on the rise, is there a cheaper way to draw in customers?

Yes. A referral network is an inexpensive way to discover the high quality leads your business needs. What is a referral network? A referral network is a group of businesses in your field that can refer their clients to other companies in the network.

Would a referral network help you? We’ll discuss the answer to this question and then explain how you can build a referral network.

A Referral Network Finds Leads For You

Other marketing techniques often target people who may or may not need your product. Referrals from companies in your industry focus on leads that want your services.

Building a referral network involves partnering with companies that can recommend your services to their clients. In return, you also tell your customers about the businesses in your referral network. Since referral networks work both ways, referrals can strengthen relationships between partner companies.

A strong network can discover clients that may not choose your company otherwise. Those customers trust their provider to refer them to reliable businesses.

A good rule of thumb is to look for companies that provide products complementary to yours. For example, a florist could build a network with wedding planners and caterers. Excellent candidates include businesses in your industry that deliver an exceptional product.

While partner companies can bring in interested clients, they’re not the only source of potential leads. Your existing customers are another valuable source of referrals. Expanding your referral program by offering rewards to customers can have dramatic results on your client base.

Dropbox, a file hosting company, offered 500 MB of free storage to both people who referred others and those being referred. This referral program was so fruitful that its membership jumped by 60 percent.

Creating a referral network increases your leads without eating up your budget. Picking the right businesses for your network can get your company in front of interested clients. However, networking with other companies doesn’t come easily to some business owners. How can you coordinate a successful referral network with other businesses?

Two business professionals discussing their referral networks

Referral Networks Are Based on Mutual Assistance

Convincing other companies to join your referral network doesn’t have to be complicated. Building a strong relationship with other business owners makes creating your network simple. How can you build a referral network for your business?

  • Identify the best fit for your network. Businesses in your industry or a related one typically have a steady client base for your business.
  • Establish contact with other business owners. Industry and trade shows can provide a great place to meet with company owners. You can also call them up to schedule a meeting.
  • Take it slow. Once you meet other company founders, don’t dive straight into your business proposition. Create a friendly atmosphere by keeping the conversation light.
  • Show them that you’re an excellent contact to have. Once you talk shop, other business owners will want to know what you can offer them. Business owners will often judge you and your business on their first impression. To make a good impression, be sure to wear appropriate attire, use professional language, and provide an excellent product.
  • Offer them incentives for referring your business. Rewarding your network helps you build a relationship with other companies. You can refer your clients to their business or offer commissions from sales you make to their clients.
  • Set up a referral program for customers. Advertise your referral options on your website. Offer rewards for customers like credits, products, or cash.

Getting qualified leads doesn’t have to eat up all your time and money. Creating a referral network helps you draw in clients who are right for your business. Referral networks find customers for you.

Refer Your Business to Referral Networks

Small businesses are pouring more money into their advertising. Why? They need customers. Building a referral network can get you the exposure you need without the high price tag.

A referral network puts your business in front of people who are already interested in your product. Partner companies in your industry tell their clients about your business and draw them to you. Building a referral network with the right companies ensures that any referred leads are interested in what you offer.

A referral network doesn’t just save your business cash; it provides the clients you need to thrive. How much could your company save with a referral network?