Getting referrals can make or break a business, and there are many ways to get them.  Creating happy customers who want to refer you their friends and family is the bread and butter to any business.  But for newer businesses which don’t have a large customer base, finding referral partners in a complementary business to your own, is a great way to jump start getting referrals.

The task on hand is how to increase the size of your circle to include more people. 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.

Here are 5 ways to find your new referral partners.

Create a most-wanted list of ten occupational categories whose members are frequently in touch with the type of client you desire. Make the acquaintance of ten people in each occupation. Seek them out, meet with them, and familiarize 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. Share your most-wanted list with others, and ask for introductions to people they already know.

Seek them out using traditional ways.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.

Strike off potential referral sources in your list who aren’t great sources after alland replace them with more reliable ones. Over time, you may find that some of the people in your circle aren’t particularly good referral sources. That’s to be expected. The reason you want so many names to start with is that only a few of them will consistently refer. You can always add more names later to replace some of the people who don’t seem as helpful. It’s likely, though, that just a few steady referral partners will be more than enough to keep you busy.

Educate referral partners.Referral partners must know how to recognize a referral opportunity. Provide your referring source with all the information they’ll need to refer ideal clients to you. Your referral partner must have enough knowledge about you so they promote you. They need to know what you do, what benefits you provide, who your customers are, how to qualify a “suspect”, and what your unique selling proposition is. It is your job to teach your referral partners these things. Find ways to share this critical information. One of the best ways is to take them through your advice process. Inevitably the best adviser referral partners are those who are clients of the adviser.

Build solid, trustworthy and reliable relationships to encourage people to just naturally refer you to others. 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.

The secret lies in finding your strategic alliances. Get to know people in the know. Professionals serving your market can be great referral sources for several reasons, but in order to attract these key people, you must know whom to seek out and what you can offer them. It would be an excellent idea to keep these elements into consideration:

  • Know your market and stay connected with many companies
  • Find partners who are more likely to understand what you do and the type of clients you’re looking for
  • Look for those who will see situations where your services are needed
  • You must have an incentive to refer you (since you can refer them)
  • Be open to a discussion even if they don’t know you
  • Look for people who want to collaborate with you on projects (or hire you as a subcontractor)