As a small business owner, you need good leads – preferably on a regular basis. One of the best ways that you can get quality leads is through networking.
Effective business networking involves generating referrals from strategic alliance partners. Forming strategic alliances is a critical part of effective marketing, both online and offline. Your business networking efforts should focus on building relationships with strategic alliance partners. Strategic partnership referrals far outweigh other sources when it comes to yielding more regular and predictable referrals for your business.
What Are Referral Partners?
There are natural referral partners in every business. For example, in the case of a real estate agent, there would be a need for a mortgage broker and a property inspector. A graphic designer may need of a copywriter or marketing consultant. A financial consultant would need the services of an attorney and a Certified Public Accountant. All of these are examples of referral partners.
The Benefits of Referral Partnerships
A strategic alliance referral partnership is formed by first identifying a core group of businesses complementary to yours. This new group of businesses supports each other’s growth by attracting new clients for each other though mutual referrals. Each business in the partnership wins by receiving business it might never have known about. Customers benefit from this partnership by dealing with a group of professionals who provide quality goods or services.
The Way to Begin Networking
The way you build your strategic alliance network does not have to be difficult. Start by analyzing queries of your customers about products or services that you do not offer yet. This will let you identify areas that you need to focus on for building a referral partnership.
For example, if you deal in furniture, your clients may ask you if you know of a reliable interior designer. Similarly, if you have a business related to computers, people may ask you if you know of a good web designer.
Select Your Referral Partners Carefully
You should always make sure that the partners you select are solid and trustworthy. Each time you give them a referral, you are also putting your reputation with your customers at stake. Similarly, any customer that you receive as a referral should be treated with the utmost care.
As a rule of thumb, you should work only with people with whom you would trust with your own business.
Your relationship with referral partners can either be done on a one on one basis, or all the partners can form a private group to learn, work and do business together. It is preferable that partnerships be a combination of all of these factors. However, it is important to build a strong relationship with each partner so that they know YOU can be trusted with their referrals.
Is There A Cost Factor Involved?
This all depends on how you want to shape your strategic alliance referral partnerships. You can mutually agree to share a percentage of the revenue generated or decide on a set referral fee. Be sure to check with your business attorney before accepting monetary compensation for referrals made.
In an era of increasing competition, strategic referral partnerships are very powerful. Make sure that you manage yours effectively to make the most of this unique marketing strategy.