No matter what type of business you’re in – remember you’re in the people business. The most successful businesses make their customers happy. They make their vendors happy. They make their referral sources happy. And since so much business is based on word of mouth and referrals, it’s important to build referral relationships and to nurture them accordingly. To be an effective networker, you want to be constantly strengthening these relationships.
Of course, like employees, each referral source is different. One source may love a pair of tickets to a basketball game, while another may prefer to display their brochures at your office. The trick is to get to know each source individually, learn what makes them tick and show your appreciation…and attention to detail.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, this list will help you get the ideas flowing. The possibilities are endless, so feel free to come up with some ideas of your own.
Send a handwritten thank you.
Send the source a handwritten thank you card. In today’s digital age, most people are accustomed to getting emails. When you send the card, be sure to take your time and mention what it is you’re thanking them for. A simple “thank you” will go a long way, especially when you take the time to write it yourself. Think about including a gift card for a cup of coffee. A little goes a long way.
Send a thoughtful gift.
In conversations, pay attention to what the referral source likes. Or if you’re not sure, find out from their staff what they’re into. Once you find out, send a thoughtful gift to show your appreciation for their referrals. A personalized gift, no matter how big or small shows them that you care.
Place a phone call.
Feel free to pick up the phone and give your referral source a call. A great time to do this is after one of the source’s referrals has had a positive experience with you. You can call up the referral source and give them a tidbit or share an update, and use this as an opportunity to thank the source for sending referrals your way.
Display the source’s cards or brochures.
If you have a brick and mortar business or an office with foot traffic, you can display the referral source’s cards or brochures. This is a great way to solidify the relationship and support your source’s business.
Let the source write a guest blog.
If you have a blog on your website, you can invite the referral source to write a guest blog and you can share the post on all of your social media channels. This is an especially good idea if your referral source is in the same industry as you.
Mention the source in your newsletter.
Even the slightest mention of a referral source in your newsletter can pay off big time for your source. Giving the source a shout-out can lead to business for your source and they may want to reciprocate by mentioning you in their newsletter. If you don’t have a newsletter, you can mention them on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Buy the source’s office lunch.
You can find out what type of food your source’s company enjoys and you can treat them to lunch. If you’re far away, you can let a great local restaurant deliver, or if you’re nearby, you can take them to their favorite eatery.
Get to know the source better.
Once you’ve gotten to know your source, you can get to know them better by inviting them to a company outing or a recreational event. This way, they can see what you’re like outside of the office and connect with you on a deeper level. You can invite them to a sporting event, to run a marathon with you and your employees, to a concert, play, company fishing trip, or on a charter boat.
Refer your source to others.
Don’t hesitate to turn the tables and refer your source business whenever you have a quality lead or referral for them. This is one of the greatest ways to show your thanks. By helping your referral source build their business, they’ll feel the same gratitude and have the desire to respond in kind.
Are you a small business owner who’s trying to build your own B2B network? To learn how to connect with like-minded business owners who’d love to refer you business, work with AdviCoach! Our coaches can show you how to build long-lasting referral relationships.