It struck me the other day that I worry about other people’s marketing efforts way more than my own! In fact, I don’t worry about my marketing efforts at all. Because I don’t do marketing for myself. That’s right I don’t do any marketing for my business. A few of my SEO colleagues like to tease me about how badly my site is optimized. I have never bought a paid ad for my business. I do not offer any type of affiliate promotions. But despite my own marketing inaction I am always busy with work. Seriously, I usually have 2 or 3 clients waiting in line for me to get to their projects, and most of them are willing to pay top dollar.
So how have I been able to grow a solid service with zero marketing efforts? Friends. No not that cheesy 90s sitcom. I am talking about real friends in the industry I work in. Almost 100% of my clients come to me from referrals from friends or other clients! I guess you could say that my only marketing strategy is relationship building.
I love relationship building! Not only is relationship building an amazing way to build and expand your business its also extremely fun! Seriously can you think of any better way to make money than hanging out with amazing people?
How to build a strong referral network through relationship building:
- Make friends with as many folks as possible in your market.
- Out of these new friends identify the ones that you get along with most and are well connected to others.
- Cultivate these relationships by being a friend, supporting these folks when needed and engaging them authentically.
- After you have won their trust make sure they know what you “do” and engage them with “work talk”.
- Sit back and wait.
Soon you should start to receive referrals. Here’s when it’s crunch time. You have to deliver solid products and services on these referrals. If you fail to deliver on referral projects your whole network will suffer. Because instead of being the “cool guy or gal” that someone just met at the last conference, you turn into “the guy or gal that can’t deliver”. And then all your relationship building efforts are ruined!
How to get started?
Well you can start using social media sites like twitter or facebook to start meeting amazing, well-connected people. But if you want to take those relationships to the next level you need to take it offline and meet them face to face. One of the best ways to meet folks face to face is to go to industry conferences and trade shows. About a year ago I went to an amazing conference called Internet Marketing Spring Break. While there I met some of the most influential folks in the world of internet marketing. I also got to hang out with folks that I had gotten to know on twitter. After making these connections and building a relationship and trust with them I started receiving referrals left and right.
This year the same conference has a new name but promises to be just as amazing! One reason that I love this conference so much is that it has a limited capacity, only 100 attendees.
Whether you are able to attend or not, remember relationship building is the key to building a strong referral network! So get out there and meet some new people, cultivate the relationships you already have and start growing your business with referrals today!