If you want more clients, you’ll find that building referral partner relationships can be the key to making that happen. After all, referrals are the best prospects you could possibly get.

How do you do this? Here are 3 good ways.

Identify and seek your referral partners

The first step is to identify a pool of potential referral sources. A referral partner can be any person, group, or institution that is willing to refer potential clients to you. There are many possible referral sources including existing prospects, colleagues, others who serve your market, salespeople, and or clients. The most important criteria being that they have to have regular access to your ideal clients. Begin identifying potential referral partners by creating a list of occupational categories whose members are frequently in touch with the type of client you desire.

Once you have identified a group of potential referral sources the second step is to meet with them and select the referral partners you would like to work with. You can arrange a meeting by calling up directly and ask to meet with them, or you can get introduced, or you can join the same groups they belong to in order to engineer some kind of “chance” meeting. Either way you want to meet face to face. Get to know each other better. Tell them about your expertise and the benefits of the service you offer. Find out more about what they do and the type of clients they serve so you can refer business to them as well. Seek to establish relationships with professionals in other fields who are known for their superb customer service and business ethics.

Research and search for potential referral partners online or phone

Google the services in your area – see who knows how to utilise social media and how they are represented online – chances are, these businesses are marketing savvy and that could help you and your relationship for cross referrals. When searching for referral partners, sometimes even like businesses are your potential partners. They may come across someone which they cannot help with their specific need – which they know you may be able to do.

When you aren’t able to make enough connections through networking and your existing contacts, don’t be afraid to just look them up. You can find people in almost any occupation listed in your local phone directory or on the web. If you approach them as a colleague and express your desire for the two of you to help each other be more successful, you’ll find many people willing to get better acquainted.

Build relationships

In order to refer you business, people need to know, like, and trust you. They want to be sure that you will take good care of the clients they send you. For that, they’d like to be better acquainted than just hearing your name. Take the time to cultivate a rapport and to develop the relationship for the long term. Listen to your referral partners. Give them time to tell you about their business.

Look for opportunities to assist their business. Ask who would be a good referral for your partner and reciprocate when appropriate. Be on the lookout for referrals you can give to your partners. If possible give the first referral.

Trust is essential to an effective referral partner relationship. They will be formulating opinions about your trustworthiness by observing your actions. Your referral partner will be watching how you treat others, the honesty you display, the integrity you demonstrate, ways in which you treat them and those they refer to you. Trust is earned and is easily lost.