In any business, whether a home business, small business or fortune 500 company, building your business through referrals is vital to your success. Too many business professionals have been "spoiled" over the last 10 years with the mentality that you can run a few ads, or create a website, and the customers will come pouring in.
In a fast-growing economy, that might work; however, in a recessionary economy, that will only make things worse. The problem for most is a lack of understanding. Many have not gone through a recession, and are basing future marketing decisions and marketing campaigns on antiquated techniques that worked in a growing economy. Others are content to simply cross the fingers and hope that the economy will recover in the next few months.
Well, if you were expecting me to give you the "everything is going to be alright" speech - forget it. The fact is this country is one of the few left with a strong middle class, but things are changing rapidly. Like a man with one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat, the gap is widening and you better choose fast.
Now, some would use this argument and tell you to advertise. Their point is that since less people are advertising, your advertising will stand out more, so spend...spend...spend. Are they crazy? Sounds like the same people who told us to buy stocks over the last year, as they kept going down.
I do agree that you need to take action, but you need to first analyze your specific situation and decide what your short term and long term goals are. For most, it is to REDUCE expenses, INCREASE sales and spend more of your time with family and friends.
If this is your situation, stop enabling your weaknesses! You know what you need to do to grow your business - you need to communicate to others what it is that you are offering as efficiently as possible. When you send out a mailer, flyer or a postcard you are spending your money in a "one-ditch" effort to attract a few consumers. One week later that money spent is worthless, and you will need to keep investing that money over and over again to retain that same pathetic result. GET OFF THE HAMSTER WHEEL!
It is better to invest your time meeting people in other occupations who would be happy to recommend you, if you recommend them. Business Networking requires a small amount of effort in the beginning, but yields you ONGOING benefits - and it's cheap!
Let's say you were a real estate agent, and met a local exterminator. Now, you might think you are "bugging" him (sorry couldn't resist), but why not ask him if it would be OK to refer him out to everyone you know who needs exterminating? Do you think, he might do the same for you? Of course. Now imagine following that same, very simple, process with everyone you meet. You could quickly establish a business network of 20, 30, 50 people who all agree to provide top quality service and recommend each other. Simply isn't it?
Go to SmartGuy.com and add your busienss for free. You a free business listing and inclusion into the local city network. Then, meet the local businesses, develop relationships, and create "your own" economic recovery!
Jordan Wexler is CEO of SmartGuy.com, one of America's fastest growing business networks with over 57,000 business members in over 3,500 cities worldwide. SmartGuy.com offers its members a free business directory, business network, social network and referral management system all in one. You can reach him by emailing Jordan@SmartGuy.com