Referral Network

Friday, 17 January 2014
referral network

Like any other business owner, you want a more profitable, more effective, and more successful company. BNI is the way to achieve these goals and take your business to the next level.  At BNI, our long-established, tested and proven system has been designed to help members work together for their mutual benefit through business networking. Joining BNI's referral network provides an excellent source of new business, both for start-ups and well established businesses of all sizes.

Referral Relationships

Your fellow BNI members will become your unpaid marketing team, actively seeking new business for you just as you do for them, within BNI's environment of structured and professional support. Here, you can learn new business skills and achieve best practice within your company. Word of mouth is still the best way to gain new business and BNI will show you how to develop relationships with others who can refer new business to you with confidence. It remains our firm belief that networking is the key to great business, regardless of its purpose. Whether it's for building your contact list, sourcing and getting introductions to potential clients, or identifying referral partners, we know how crucial networking is to expanding your business.

Poor Networking

Lots of new businesses are attracted to networking events with a large audience, the popular thinking being that where there are a lot of people, there are lots of new customers. But what actually happens in this situation is that, since no one knows each other, the ratio of small talk to useful networking is dismal. Not only does no one know each other, but more importantly, no one trusts each other either. For this reason, discussions of new business are rarely ever fruitful.

Business owners who have networked at these events are often left with the feeling that business networking is simply not worth their time. Their experience of networking amongst strangers never seems to lead to any new business. And why should it if credibility and trust are missing?

referral meetingsSuccessful Networking

This is where BNI makes all the difference. As a member, you develop a referral network that grows over time by attending business networking events on a weekly basis. By getting to know each other and hearing testimonials from other members, credibility and trust between each member is created. This gives everyone the confidence to pass business opportunities amongst trusted colleagues.

Because why would you refer your customer to someone who you don't know? Wouldn't you prefer to give your custom to someone that you trusted? This seems pretty obvious but so many small business owners still try to network in environments amongst strangers while expecting to generate lots of new customers.

SMEs

BNI’s structured meetings can be the networking game-changer for start-ups to find those all-important first customers. Networking is the best way for small businesses to establish themselves, by building their list of contacts. But the benefits of networking aren't limited to start-ups and small-scale operations. Medium-sized businesses can also seek out other companies with which they share synergy, as well as businesses with a similar client base. These make great referral partners. Larger companies benefit too! For them, networking can be a tool to find the right person with the right connections.

Remember, it’s not just about the people in the room at that specific moment – far more important are those people’s connections outside of BNI. You’ll find that someone always knows someone who you need to get in touch with!

Medium-sized businesses

referral meetingsMany medium-sized businesses that already have a stable client base are looking to expand with the help of business networking. For organizations fitting this description, the focus is on trying to find a higher quantity of the 'right type' of customers. Once you have identified what your best customer 'looks like,' you can set about creating a strategy for finding them, using your network to its full potential.

For example, if you are an office furniture company looking for opportunities to supply furniture, it would be logical to identify a builder who specializes in office refurbishments. Considering that both you and the shop-fitter will likely have similar clients, you will be able to refer potential customers to each other after building a relationship of trust.

And this is what BNI excels at! In each of our networking groups, only one representative from a particular industry is allowed to attend at a time. This means that as the group builds its membership, members don't have competitors to contend with. The working synergies between the members start developing immediately as complementary business structures are recognized. Once our members have got to know and trust each other, fantastic working relationships start to form! They can then go on to pass each other business opportunities at every meeting.

Large-sized businesses

So how can the principal of the referral network to be applied to large companies? How can they benefit from this model? If we make the assumption that large companies tend to do business with similar-sized companies, the challenge remains in locating the right organization.

For example, let's assume you wished to contact Head of Marketing at a huge company like Coca-Cola. You could employ a telesales team to get in touch with them, but considering Coca-Cola's size, often you will be met with resistance. Alternatively, you could try attending a well-established business networking group to see if anyone in the room, or one of their contacts, knows the Head of Marketing at Coca-Cola. You’d be surprised at the results.

Referral Strategy

Over ninety-five percent of all businesses have reported that customer referrals are an important source of new business. Yet only 3% of businesses have developed a strategy, such as BNI, to generate referral-based business. The saying is true: "It's not what you know, it's who you know" and more significantly, how well you know them.