What is a Business Referral Network?

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When I’m out and about speaking at events and in organisations, I always mention business referral networks…and then I often get a glazed look staring back at me.

And I get it…if you’d talked to me about business referral networks when I was in corporate, I would have stared right back at you too.  It’s not language or knowledge that I had when I worked in corporate and when I left the corporate world, it took me some time to understand the networking landscape.

With that in mind, I decided to write a grass roots blog on what is a business referral network, because I know from experience, that if you are not in the world of networking, this is simply knowledge that you might not have. Afterall we don’t know what we don’t know.

So what exactly is a business referral network?

A business referral network, also known as a referral network or referral group, is a group of businesses or professionals that come together to exchange leads and referrals with one another. The purpose of these networks is to generate new business opportunities through mutual recommendations and introductions.

Typically, members of a business referral network belong to different industries or professions. They share a common interest and ambition in growing their business and sometimes they target a similar market or customer base. By referring clients or customers to one another, members can expand their reach and potentially gain new customers who have been recommended by trusted sources within the network.

Business referral networks often meet regularly, either in person or virtually, to exchange information about their respective businesses and to provide updates on their areas of expertise. These meetings may also include structured networking sessions where members actively seek out opportunities to refer each other to potential clients or customers.

Structure

All business referral networks have a similar set up. Some are more rigid and stringent than others, but in essence, all of them follow a variation of this format:

  • 60 seconds per member to do a showcase on their business
  • 10 minute spotlight presentation from one member to go deeper into their business, ideal clients and expertise
  • 30 seconds per member to discuss who they would like an introduction to that week, i.e. asking for a referral

Frequency

The most effective business referral networks meet weekly, thereby allowing members to really get to know one another in depth, in order to be able to refer their fellow members with authenticity and skill.

Since Covid, many networks changed their frequency so you’ll also find networks that meet every two weeks or some that meet once a month.

Examples

Common examples of business referral networks include business networking groups, professional associations, and online referral platforms. These networks can be valuable resources for businesses looking to expand their client base and build relationships with other professionals in their industry.

Seat Policies

Typically, facilitated business referral networking groups, operate on, what is a called a ‘one seat per profession policy’, e.g. if there is one accountant in a group, there cannot be a second one, unless they service completely different sectors and there isn’t competition.

Other networking groups such as Chambers, have an ‘open seat policy, so you could have a few people from a similar industry in the group.

Who’s it For?

Some referral networks work on an business to business basis. Some operate on a business to business and business to consumer basis.  Some also include business owners who are tradespeople.  When having a look at what might suit you and your business, start to get aware of the nuances of the business referral networks that are out there!

In my next blog, I’ll be drilling down into why business referral networking groups are essential to business success.


Looking For Networks?

If you’re interested in finding out about more networks, search Networks on the blog to see the reviews that have been written.

Connecting With Jean

You can reach out to me at hello@networkingjean.ie.

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Jean Evans
Jean Evans
Jean Evans is an expert on all things networking. It is her passion, and one that is borne out of experience and plenty of trial and error, mistakes and mishaps. Through her blogs and social media channels, Jean shares tips, tricks, hacks and ideas on how to become an effective networker in business.

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