The trouble with referral networking

Where do I start?

A colder climate

Given that there are so many groups, not just the breakfast meetings, referral networking is hard work. As we said, there is a lot of dilution with people being torn several ways.

The recession has brought more difficulties into the referral networking arena, because there are lots of people who have started new businesses having come out of employment. That is absolutely brilliant is some ways, or should I say admirable? It was what I did ten years ago. However, ten years ago there were not crowds of people suddenly in the market and looking to sell their skills.

As a new business, if you are really struggling to get work, you have no track record. That means you have few or no recommendations and I don’t know whether you are any good. It also means I would be wary of referring you because when I refer anyone, I am putting my own reputation at stake. I may know other businesses who do the same thing you do, and because they are established I know whether they are worthy of recommendation.

With a little help from your friends…

Someone who has had no business yet has to rely on longer term friends to get work, be able to give a reference from a former employer, or has to take a punt with advertising. I cannot recommend an accountant I don’t know to be good, or a printer or a plumber or an HR specialist. I may meet a web designer when out networking, but I know lots of those and I already know good ones because their work is out there for all to see..

Much more than it was ten years ago, the future of networking is more distinctly on-line, or it seems to be. In some ways it is easier to build relationships there. Quite often one “sees” people more often there. I have referred people on Twitter and have been referred, leading to some decent business.

Has the world changed?

Local referral networking seems too hit-and -miss now, by which I mean that there are more worried people without business bouncing between one networking group and another, and who don’t understand how you have to give first in order to receive. Referral networking works through genuine relationships. There are too many networking butterflies.

Do you get business through networking? Is it through on-line social media or is it though old-fashioned meetings? Is it a mixture of the two?

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