5 Business Networking Ideas to Increase Referrals

Networking is an essential part of increasing your company’s visibility and gaining new referrals. Often, it can be who you know, not what you know. Learn about the importance of business networking and ways you can utilize your employees, as well as customers, to increase your company’s referrals.

Your employees are one of your most valuable assets when it comes to increasing your referrals. Entrepreneur lists several tips on helping your employees become effective at business networking. Some employees are not comfortable networking, so you should provide training on how to do so. You can conduct in-house trainings where employees role-play as customers or associates. Another option is to cover the cost of training courses like the Certified Networker Training. You could also cover the membership cost for professional or industry organizations.

You can decide if you would like to offer extra incentives for those who bring in new referrals. Incentives could range from bonuses and extra vacation time to prime parking spots and employee recognition. You could also implement a system where employees receive a commission from any business brought in through their referrals.

The Balance Small Business also provides tips on how your employees can network more effectively. You can assist your employees with creating a short speech, known as an elevator pitch, that describes your company and its products and services.  Having a presence at industry events like conferences or trade shows not only increases your visibility, but also helps your employees improve their networking skills. Such events do require upfront costs for registration, travel costs, and lodging, but you will likely see a good return on your investment.

Forbes highlights the importance of utilizing your customers to increase your company’s referrals. It may sound simple, but creating a positive experience for your customers is key in maintaining current customers, along with acquiring new ones. Customers who have a favorable experience are likely to use your company again. Customers who had outstanding customer service are likely to share their experience with family and friends or in online reviews. Take advantage of those customers who had excellent service and love to share their experience. Ask them to leave reviews on your website or be featured in marketing efforts, such as television ads or literature.

Another simple way to help increase your referrals is harnessing the power of social media. Invite your customers to share their experiences on social media sites. You could offer an incentive, such as a discount coupon, for customers who share their experiences on social media platforms. You should also feature links to your social media accounts on your company’s website.

You can also boost your company’s referrals by providing referrals to other businesses. For example, a carpet cleaning company could recommend an associate who performs house-cleaning services. The next time the associate has a client that needs a carpet cleaned, he or she is likely to recommend that business. In the home care business, think about partnering with an accounting firm or another professional services organization that is in the position of providing recommendations to adult children who find themselves in the position of caring for their parents. Sometimes it’s a matter of being creative but if you think about businesses and groups in your area, you will find opportunities to network and expand your business.

Finally, consider joining service and/or professional organizations to expand your network. Organizations such as Rotary International have chapters in nearly every city and community. It was founded as an opportunity for local businesses to convene and network – while looking for ways to perform community service. Check out your local Rotary Club. Or consider joining your city’s Chamber of Commerce. Here you will meet a number of professionals and business owners – some who may be potential sources of referrals in the future.