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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Power of Referral

Most small business owners and business developers understand the power of getting referrals of business. On the flip side, there is even more power in referring business to others.

Awhile ago I experienced this after first getting referred by an inactive client. One afternoon I answered a call from a past client in Toledo, where I started my business. Now a board member for a Toledo non-profit, my contact explained the need of the organization and why she called me to create a solution.

In essence, she knows the divided board members need a format for celebrating who they are and why they have made their board commitment. While she arranged a time for me to meet with her and the key decision-makers, I thought of a focused, responsible and intelligent non-profit consultant in my Columbus network.

Without contacting my Columbus contact I reviewed her materials to better understand her service portfolio, for it was clear to me I would need these resources. Just as my Toledo contact reached out to me, I may need to reach out to my Columbus contact.

Although at the Toledo meeting I inspired good will, asked meaningful questions and endeared the decision-makers, I took care to alert them not only to my areas of focus but to the areas they could benefit from with my Columbus "associate".

Expanding my value to include the non-profit consultant seemed timely and appropriate, especially as their needs lent itself to a combined solution. I didn't have time to waste, researching board development and governance, non-profit operations or strategic planning. Instead, I could delegate this to my resource already proficient in these areas. What a relief!

My conversation during the Toledo meeting was confident based on knowing I have resources to refer in to this client. That is power! Still able to take on a piece of the business, I am creating value for this client, for the consultant in my network and for future partnerships.

Just as this business came to me through referral, my giving a sizable piece of the project to another in my network gives me even more power. It appeals to my altruism, to honoring my own focus and allows my network resource to expand. It's a win/win!

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