Why you want business referrals from networking, not leads.

BNI referral slips

BNI Referral Slips

What do you get from networking? If you get leads it might be ‘notworking’ as leads need chasing. If you get referrals then you are probably a member of BNI; referrals represent a genuine opportunity to do business.

Here at Morgan PR we often go netwalking in Berkshire and Oxfordshire – which is like networking, but involves countryside and having a one-to-one walking the dogs and it does involve leads – for the dogs. It is the only time I am interested in a lead, as it safely gets the dog across the road. I don’t think a lead has any place in business except as a verb, mostly it is wasted noun and wasted time!

Dictionary.com defines as follows:

Lead (noun)

A suggestion or piece of information that helps to direct or guide; tip; clue: I got a lead on a new job. The phone list provided some great sales leads.

Here is the same website’s definition of ‘referral’:

Referral (noun)

A person recommended to someone or for something.

They are worlds apart are they not?

Imagine if I was down the pub (it has been known!) and overheard this on a neighbouring table: “Can anyone recommend someone for making videos for my website? Ideally they would need a studio in Thatcham?”

Now, having overheard I could simply take their details and tell Peter Cooke of Dudleigh Films about it… that would be a lead and he follows it up as a stranger to the person making the appeal and may or may not get the work.

Or… how about as I understand the benefits of referrals I politely joined the conversation and told them all about Peter? The work he has done for me and for clients and about the £200 deal he does for ‘talking head’ videos for your website… Already he has a much better chance of getting the work. How about if I asked if it was okay for me to get Peter to call them?

As a Director Consultant with BNI Berkshire I am responsible for the Bourne Chapter of BNI in Thatcham… where Peter Cooke is a member. So in the scenario where I had recognised an ideal referral for him I can now deliver that referral either online or at the meeting on one of the slips pictured above and the person would be expecting the call and already knows how great Dudleigh films is at producing video for web – from a studio in Thatcham.

Much more professional than a lead isn’t it?

At BNI members are given training that teaches them how to ask for ideal referrals – and how to find them. Having been specific (we’ve blogged about being specific in your 60 seconds) fellow chapter members can listen out for opportunities and even generate them, ensuring that you will not be left chasing leads to grow your business.

Do you have any strategies for getting good referrals? Share them in the comments. If you would like to learn how to truly network effectively do get in touch.