Work your Network or Give Work to your Network?

At a Referral Institute conference – all about referral marketing – that I attended last week, an attendee took the microphone from the floor. He said that his generation (OK – so he was younger than me!) must be good at networking because they have such large networks; being the generation of Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and all that. It may be that he understood the situation better than I heard, but what I  heard was confusion between:

•   Having networks:  Holiday-card lists, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections etc.
•   Networking: spending time building relationships.
•   Network marketing: You marketing products to that network. Think Amway,  Tupperware et al. If you do it wrong,  watch out for that Facebook friend count – it may just drop.
•   Referral Marketing: Rather than marketing to your networks, you and your business network make referrals for each other.

I first ‘met’ referral marketing when I joined BNI in 2008. I gave and received referrals and found out that it just worked.  As a web developer, my clients ask me about services that overlap, or are just outside my expertise. So I consistently have opportunities to refer SEO people, graphic designers,  photographers, videographers, PG guys, Mac guys…

worlds-best-known-marketing-secretThat simple? It is and it is not. Just like sales closing is a skill that people train in, so is referral marketing a skill that can be learned. I went on to receive training from The Referral Institute, which I would recommend to any business owner or sales professional. Mike Macedonio, one of the people who trained was a co author of  a great book that you can purchase here.

Which is where the beginning of this post and the end of my post from last week about Pipelines and the sales process come together. I figured out the  information in ‘my’ spreadsheet on my own, but it was all highly  influenced by the training. Which is why I really encourage you to read the book or attend the training and figure it out so that it will work for you.