Referrals are key to growing your business. But rather than take a wait and see approach hoping to get some referrals a proactive approach is to strategically develop referral partners — people who you have a relationship with and who proactively introduce and refer you to your target prospects. The prospects they send you are the easiest-to-convert leads you’ll ever get.

Here are 3 non-conventional ways to find these referral partners.

Explore who has regular contact with your target customers – or ask your current clients. Not sure where to start?  A great way to find out is to simply ask your own ideal clients who else they buy from and tap into their network of suppliers and service providers.  This step brings you closer to potential referral partner candidates.  Figure out what other products and services that your ideal target customers buy.  Find out from whom they buy their supplies, and who they contract for the services they need.

Create a most-wanted list of ten occupational categories whose members are frequently in touch with the type of client you desire. Then make the acquaintance of ten people in each occupation. Seek them out, meet with them, and familiarise them with 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.

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.Regardless of how you first get in touch, some of the people you talk to won’t be receptive to getting to know you better or the idea of referring each other business. That’s okay. You only need ten names for each occupation, and there are plenty of people to choose from. Just move on to the next possibility.

When you connect with someone who seems open to sending you business referrals from time to time, you have found a referral partner. Add their name to your list. Ten people times ten occupations equals your circle of 100.