For any business, word-of-mouth advertising is extremely powerful for bringing in new clients. There are plenty of ways to pay for word-of-mouth advertising and paying for it is just as effective as growing your own network. But an organically grown network is going to give you a more hands-on approach to growing your business through the power of referrals.
A business network is simply a collection of people you meet in your daily travels that are interested in growing their business and helping you to grow yours. Your business network will consist of anyone you meet because you never want to limit your range of influence to just one industry. To create a business network, you carry business cards wherever you go and swap cards with people as you meet them. You keep their contact information and use that contact information when the opportunity is right.
As you are talking to someone you just met, they might mention to you that they need a plumber to fix a problem they have in their home. You give them the contact information of one of the plumbers you have in your business network and strongly recommend that your new contact call your plumber. You should also make sure that your new contact mentions to your plumber that you said to call. Over time, these referrals create a constantly-growing network of business contacts that will help grow your business.
Creating business networks online is just as powerful as the networks made up of contacts you meet face-to-face. Social media is an excellent place to start building your networks because of all of the groups and communities each network has available. You should also look into professional organizations that have online message boards and other ways to network with people online. As you grow your online network, you would utilize it the same way you would use your business card network.
At some point, you will want to find the social media profiles of your business card contacts so you can connect with them online. But it is important to keep your business card and online networks separate to prevent you from making incorrect referrals. For example, a local small business owner you meet would probably benefit better from the local accountant you know instead of the one you know several states over.
Business networks are essential to any growing organization. It is important to constantly connect with people you can refer to others to help enhance your credibility and, eventually, grow your own business as well. The larger your networks and the more active you are with them, the more you will consistently add to your customer base and improve your overall revenue.