A strong referral network can be a fantastic business tool when embraced and used to its fullest potential. These networks help feed your business clients and leads that might never have come your way without them, so it pays to be involved.
So, how do you get on board with a strong referral network, and why would you want to be included in one in the first place?
What is a referral network?
Referral networks are groups that actively refer your business to interested leads. Referral networks come in different types depending on the groups you utilise to make referrals, and it might be that your overall network uses a combination of groups from existing customers to professionals from other businesses.
A referral network usually offers some kind of incentive, such as a reward for successful referrals. These encourage people to take part and reward them for their time, pushing them to make further referrals and bringing in new members looking to benefit from referring others to the business.
For example, one type of referral network commonly used by businesses is the ‘refer a friend’ type. This commonly sees an existing customer profit from turning a friend or family member into a new customer, with a reward that is usually split between both the customer making the referral and the new customer they brought in.
These networks are popular due to their wide reach and the fact that they can be offered to every customer using their already-captured details.
How do you create a strong referral network?
This depends on the kind of referral networks you’re looking to use.
If you’re utilising customer referrals, your referral network needs time to grow and become stronger over time. However, there are some ways in which this can be given a better shot, and improve the speed at which it grows.
Customer networks should come with rewards that incentivize referrals, bearing in mind that customer referrals are usually unlimited, allowing a customer to refer as many people as they want.
Additionally, building a strong rapport with customers and offering them the best service from the earliest point of their journey will solidify your chances of them referring others.
Making customers delighted with their experience is both your best tool and your strongest chance of making them want to share the business with others and earn you more customers.
If you’re looking to build or join an existing referral partner network, the key to creating strong bonds is the same: demonstrate a genuine desire to build goodwill with other businesses by rewarding their referrals and doing the same for them.
This not only helps to uphold an honest and fair network from which everybody benefits, but it also helps your professional reputation and encourages others to give you further referrals in future. People need to know that you’re a team player and that you’ll do the same for them as they do for you.
Once you’ve joined a network, you’re as responsible for upholding the values and ethos of the network as any of its other members. Through this, you help to strengthen the network and benefit more from it while helping others to do the same.
Of course, in a referral network, quality will always beat out quantity. When making referrals for others, try to keep them as high-quality and genuine as possible. Referring leads that show a genuine interest in the product or service of the business you’re referring them to gives that business the best possible chance of converting that lead, and it reflects well on you as a business too.
One source of referrals that many businesses still fail to tap into is that of their employees. Employee referrals can be easily incentivized with bonuses to salary, rewards such as trips or experiences paid for by the company, or by extra benefits like days off and recognition within the business.
Overseeing and setting up an employee referral network is greatly simplified by having an existing network platform in place already, such as an alumni management platform. As you gain feedback from existing and exiting employees (potentially from exit interviews), you can hone and refine your referral program until it’s perfectly balanced.
Example of a strong referral network
When looking for a strong example of a referral network, it’s hard to leave Airbnb out of the discussion. The start up unicorn utilised customer referrals to great success, eventually refining it in a 2.0 version that saw them yield 300% more bookings than before.
Tracking and measuring the success of their referral program as it unfolded is what allowed the company to make intelligent decisions about where to it and how effective it was.
Another successful referral network comes from Google, and how they utilised referrals to grow their G Suite software package by a million paying customers in a little over a month. Google allowed up to 100 referrals per customer per year, with a $23 payment per successful referral.
For each referral, Google kept referrers up to speed with email updates that notified them of referrals that might have needed chasing up. They also provided timelines and in-depth information on the process of making referrals, including testimonials from successful referrals.
There is more than one way to create a strong referral network by innovating on the concept, making it as easy and risk-free for referrers, and ensuring that their efforts are fully rewarded.
Networking made simple
Don’t know where to start with making a network for your employees and corporate alumni? Reach out to us at Aluminati and start your journey.
Our platform for corporate alumni is fully controlled and managed by you, unlocking your community and granting you brand-new insights that you’ve never had before.
To find out more about our product and get a demo, contact us today.