Every business - particularly small, entrepreneurial or professional businesses - must have a powerful referral network. It is very unlikely (and terribly expensive) to "advertise your way to success". Without tons of capital, it can't be done. It is far more effective, and more fun, to create an effective network that sends you clients, supports your business, and makes you money. Unfortunately, most professionals confuse effective networking with passing out business cards and schmoozing. They are NOT the same. Here are my Top 10 Tips for a network that will help you build your business.
1. DO: Be visible and well-liked! Know lots of people and be sure they know you.
2. DON'T: Inappropriately use acquaintances or membership lists to build your practice. People hate being put on the spot!
3. DO: Join and contribute to worth-while groups and causes. You have to put in before you can take out. Be known as a generous person with lots to give.
4. DON'T: Grab the spotlight or Chair every committee. Don't turn down positions of leadership or responsibility, but don't be pushy. Let people discover you!
5. DO: Show up! Whatever your current circle of friends and relationships, this week go someplace else! Keep adding new circles of influence and expand the range of your interests and involvements. Keep growing the circle!
6. DON'T: Expect colleagues with similar expertise to be referral sources. They have their own businesses and are unlikely to share clients with you. Be realistic.
7. DO: Reach beyond your profession for business connections. Look to business owners, salespeople, educators, and managers. Anyone who connects with lots of people and who does not compete with you is a potential partner.
8. DON'T: Rush into business relationships. Have lunch, get acquainted, but never push a business card or brochure on anyone. Conveniently "forget" them at the office, and send a thoughtful follow-up letter with the material a couple days later.
9. DO: Make sure your business connections run both ways. Referring clients must make business sense to both sides. Make sure your work provides increased income, more convenience, better outcomes, or other benefits for your referral sources. This is only fair.
10. DON'T: Panic or try to rush. Most successful practices only need 3-10 great referral sources. Select and cultivate them wisely and patiently. It pays huge dividends!
? Copyright 2003 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. This article may be copied and used in your own newsletter or on your website as long as you include the following information: "Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach. Dr. Humbert has over 300 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter! It's all on his website at: http://www.philiphumbert.com