Networking in a strategic way can create win-win referral partnerships and lifelong business relationships.
Networking and lead generation can be one of the most overwhelming and confusing parts of being a solopreneur.
There are thousands of ways to network and meet people. But how do you create paying clients out of the connections you create?
Sometimes it can feel like an aimless, overwhelming waste of time to attend business networking events or referral groups where you are supposed to “network.”
All business owners network, but many have no idea what they are supposed to do to create a steady stream of clients from the networking.
Today’s episode is all about creating win-win partnerships and putting a bit of strategy into your networking so it doesn’t feel aimless or overwhelming.
Find the full episode and transcript at richlysuccessful.com/26
Networking can be such a tricky topic. If you own a business, it’s a requirement at least in the beginning before anyone knows who you are.
Today I wanted to get super specific about one way you can network for your business. This method works well especially for introverts or those of you who prefer talking to people one on one and may like to avoid the crowds of networking events.
First, let’s simplify what I mean by networking. Networking simply means talking to people and building relationships.
You could take a “casting a wide net” approach and meet everyone in your area and attend every event possible. This is great, and it serves a great purpose in that everyone will eventually know who you are and what you do. This is great and very important.
But what if you have a very niche type of business? This still would work, but there’s another tool that I want you to put in your tool box that I like to call Win-Win Partnerships.
Creating win-win partnerships is very strategic, and you can do it from your office by searching for other businesses who serve the same audience that you serve. It’s like fishing with a pole instead of a net.
Let’s say you have a business as a professional organizer, and you specialize in working with people who have lost a loved one and don’t know what to do with their belongings after they have passed. A perfect referral partner could be a trauma and grief counselor who helps the same person.
This is a win-win relationship for everyone involved. It’s great for the client who is being served in two ways, and it’s great for both service providing business owners.
Depending on your industry, you may also be able to give and receive a referral fee for each referral. This could be a percentage of the fee or a flat rate fee. Be sure to check the laws in your area for your specific type of business.
So here’s how to get started with this.
6 Steps to Creating Win-Win Referral Partnerships
- Think of your ideal client. Who is another business that would serve your ideal client, but in a different way?
It may be helpful to make a list of several types of industries or go through your chamber of commerce directory and make a list of businesses that may also serve your clients.
- Brainstorm ways that you can meet other business owners in other industries that serve your ideal clients.
Some ideas could be attending conferences, being a podcast guest, or doing speaking engagements for your win-win partners.
- Reach out. This is the part that many don’t like to do, but I don’t think it’s terrible.
Ideally, you would ask to be introduced to this win-win partner, but it may involve a well-written email or card.
For example, let’s say you are a member of the chamber of commerce and you have done your research and would like to meet several business owners who would make good referral partnerships. This would be a good opportunity to ask your chamber president or relationship manager to introduce you to the person you’d like to meet. This makes it a bit warmer.
But if it is someone that you don’t already have a connection with, you can carefully craft an honest, genuine letter or email to tell them what you like about their work, the work you do, and see if they’d like to chat further to see about creating a business relationship. I find that this works really well if it is genuine.
I’ve been the recipient of these types of reach outs and they work if the person is genuine and wants to give as much as receive. However, if it is clear they are just trying to “get” it feels transactional and spammy.
This happened to me about a month ago. Someone reached out and said we were part of the same network, and he asked if I’d like to have virtual coffee to see about being referral partners. I said yes, because why not. But when we got on the call, it was clear he just wanted to tell me all about what he does and blah blah blah. He didn’t ask me anything and didn’t even know what my business was about.
I got curious about his strategy, and he told me his assistant sent out the form emails and booked everything and all he had to do was show up. The problem was he wasn’t curious at all and didn’t care about me. He was looking for quantity over quality and I felt it in my bones, which felt like a wasted half hour of my life.
Remember, quality relationships take some time, careful thought, and genuine communication. When you are looking for quantity, this tends to make them feel transactional and spammy.
- Make sure you balance your giving and receiving.
If you talk to a potential referral partner, make sure you have an offer that is equally as good for them. And start sending them some referrals as soon as possible. This will make you a great partner to have, and they will reciprocate, and you will enjoy a long-term business relationship.
It’s also important to give a referral fee or gift depending on your industry. Make sure you thank your business friends appropriately.
- Stay connected
The most important part of creating a long-term business relationship is to stay connected. And this doesn’t have to be a one size fits all thing. It all depends on the person. Some partners may be too busy to catch up regularly for coffee, but they would probably enjoy a nice holiday gift.
- Enjoy the relationship
Remember, business is about creating a community of service. When you are a solopreneur, you don’t usually have an office of colleagues to talk to by the water cooler every day. This is another reason that your win-win business partnerships are so important. They create the human connection that is often lacking when you go out on your own.
I hope you found these networking tips helpful. Win-win partnerships are just one of the many ways you can create connections and real relationships that last in your business.
If you’d like some help brainstorming ideas to create relationships, reach out to me for a strategy session at https://richlysuccessful.com/strategy/
Or, send me an email at email@example.com to set up a free discovery call or visit https://richlysuccessful.com/work-with-christina
Thanks for listening today!