These are not the times to be coasting on your past success. Businesses are closing all around you and many of my clients are fearful. Instead of being proactive and seeking help, many have ducked for cover. Don’t let this be you! Keep refining your service or product offerings, your customer service, your unique sales proposition and your marketing strategy. Have you built your referral network yet?

Are you rewarding existing customers for referring new business? Let them know that you appreciate them AND their referrals. Offer them a bonus or incentive for sending new business your way. Use a direct mail piece, a phone call or an email to announce this offer.

Are you attending association events? Networking with those business people in industries that compliment, but don’t compete with yours is a great way to build your referrals. If you are in HVAC sales, are you attending Home Builder Association meetings? If you are a realtor, are you attending Human Resource functions to gather relocation business? If you are a Main Street business, are you an active member of your Chamber of Commerce?

Are you taking good care of your employees? They can be the BEST source of referrals available, but they have to be proud to work for you and your company.

Are you reconnecting periodically with former customers? If you are providing great products and services, many of your customers will use you again-IF you remind them to.

Are you talking to the service and product providers that YOU use as a consumer about what you do? Are you freely and generously promoting other people’s services so you can later ask the same in return (you may not need to)? Is your “elevator speech” ready so you can let them know what you do?

Are you inquiring about other business peoples’ interest in a formal referral network? Have you sent out letters to appropriate businesses, letting them know what you do and that you would like to promote their services? Setting up a small event with interested parties can be a great way to make real connections. An informal luncheon at your place of business can go a long way to reaching new contacts (everyone loves free food!).

Keep trying new “high-tech” and proven “low–tech” methods of marketing to see which is most effective for you. A referral network is a time-tested way to build your existing business.


by Steven Schlagel