In a recent post I suggested it was a good idea to work out who else is needed when you do business. This simple exercise means you can work out which other businesses give you the most referral opportunities. Both for giving and receiving.
Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I could give an example. Some years ago I was involved in an Internet start up. We provided high speed internet connectivity to business clients in City of London in the days before broadband! Before we opened for business we built relationships with other providers of services in the Internet, IT and Telecoms space. Services that would be complementary to ours and that our clients and potential clients might also need. Some of these may have been competitors in some respects, but we felt that if they were right for a client then we would not be and vice versa.
These other businesses included providers of:
- consumer ISP services - we were b2b only.
- computer and computer network equipment - we did not sell this equipment.
- email and internet software.
- internet security.
- computer cabling suppliers.
- data storage.
- telephony and telephony equipment.
- web design.
- internet hosting.
Most of the time when we spoke with potential clients they might not need our services at the time, but they needed one of these others and we referred them. This kept us front of mind for both our potential clients and those we referred.
Over time all of our business came through referrals from these sources. The 'potential clients' became clients or referred others as a result of the help we provided for them. Those we referred then stated doing the same for us. Many of these relationships also resulted in more collaboration, but that's another story...