At a recent networking event I found myself engaged in an exciting conversation about best networking practices. I had briefly touched upon Referral Key’s ability to allow professionals to track their referral relationships for reciprocity. There were several accountants, realtors, amongst others who were intrigued by the idea; they seemed eager to learn about referral tracking.
Shortly after finishing my sentence, a man, who I believe may have been a small business coach, said “We don’t do that here!” Puzzled, I replied, “What is it that you don’t do?” The man seemed a bit unnerved when he followed up, “We don’t keep score, good business networking is about helping others out because you want to, not because you’ll get something in return.”
As seemingly innocent as his interjection was, it didn’t sit right with me. As a whole his philosophy seemed very detrimental to a small business’s growth, as it overlooked the most important premise of referral marketing. Charity is not a substitute for mutually beneficial business practices. In fact, a “don’t expect anything in return” goes against the fundamental rules of good economics. This is why I decided to come up with a short list of important reasons why small business professionals should keep score of every referral they send and receive.
1. Identify your strengths
Who have you been sending new business to? Has all of your new business leads been going to one industry within your network (i.e. graphic designers)? If so, is there a way you can leverage your “design” leads to help out other professionals in your network? Perhaps ask the recipients of your “design” leads to send you customers looking for photography work. You can then pass those leads on to a photographer in your network and further develop trust.
2. Identify your weaknesses
Your colleague with the loudest pitch or the heaviest handshake may not necessarily be your best source of new business. For instance, having two accountants in your network, one of which is your good friend but never sends you business, the other is a bit distant but is always sending you new leads, it would be foolish to constantly send your friend new business and ignore your colleague who always looks out for you.
3. Are you better off than you were last quarter?
The mind is a funny thing. We often think of our own success in a compartmentalized immediacy. When you ask yourself the question, “Professionally, am I better off than I was last year?” don’t let this morning’s coffee spill or successful sales call influence your assessment. Use quantitative data to really get an idea of where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.
Not keeping score for the sake of altruism is ultimately a copout… bad business for you and your network.
Seasoned small business blogger and author of “Good Plum” Eliott Kosmicki, says it best in his recent post The Secret to Winning Online, or Anywhere, “It’s not always fair to get down on yourself if you miss a writing appointment or don’t get through as many sales calls as you planned. However, if you have your game plan set - you’ll be able to keep score easier, knowing if you lost a day or won a day.
At the end of a week or month, you’ll have a clear idea of where your weak spots are and can adjust to get better.”