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Networking for business growth.

Your best source of new business is referrals, and they do not cost you anything - although rewarding them can promote more of them. Referrals should come from your existing customers or clients - i.e. your network of potential advocates.

Seven ways to build a strong network and maximise referrals:

1. Value the lifetime value of a new client.

Client lifetime value = (Average transaction value x average purchase cycle) x customer lifespan.

Consider ways to show your appreciation for repeat business by calculating the revenue you will likely generate from a new client. You can possibly give them a gift card toward their next purchase or simply a bottle of wine. They will spread the word.

2. Identify businesses that compliment your services.

It is common for a surveyor to work with lawyers, bankers, accountants, and tradies, who can each refer business to each other. Set up a regular informal gathering and make it happen. You should discuss how you can work together more effectively at each meeting, in addition to being sociable. Your energy should focus on the people aligned with your vision and values.

3. Refer more work to your networks.

The Law of reciprocity states that giving work to others will encourage more referrals in return. If you do something nice for someone, they will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice for you back. The more referrals you send, the more you will receive in return. Don't forget to thank those who refer you!

4. Join a formal network.

It is possible to join existing networks, such as BNI, Rotary, and Chambers of Commerce. It's all about building relationships and trust.

5. Be prepared to connect.

Be prepared with appropriate business collateral, even if it's just your business card. To engage new people, make sure your elevator pitch is clear and that you are prepared with some simple questions. Try not to do all the talking and spread yourself around to see who aligns with your thinking.

6. Get involved in the community.

Providing support to a non-profit or club whose values align with yours can be invaluable. Rather than 'peddling your wares' to the organisation, wear branded clothing and have signs (if appropriate) on hand. You need to know your potential customers, like them, and trust them before they will do business with you.

7. Follow up with those you naturally connect with.

Stay in touch with them with a simple email or a helpful article that made you think of them. Networking takes time.

What can you implement today to grow your network?

"Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you." - Zig Ziglar

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