Although you don’t have the specific knowledge to take on every business opportunity (or challenge), establishing a network of referral relationships gives you access to a wide range of knowledge. And by bringing more people into your network, everyone involved stands to benefit.
Here are four quick tips for building a reliable network:
Actively seek networking opportunities.
Always keep an eye and ear out for opportunities to collaborate. To keep track of potential referrals, we have created a database including notes on the relationship and recommendations for endorsing each contact.
Don’t refer someone arbitrarily.
If you don’t know a referral personally or have a direct recommendation from someone you trust, it’s best not to refer someone. Remember, you’re liable (and your reputation is on the line) for any mishaps. Collaborate with people you trust.
Many of our daily tasks include following up with people. I set tasks to make sure those I work with have responded to emails or completed tasks that I sent weeks earlier. Don’t assume that everyone is good at task management.
Keep referral processes up-to-date.
As your network of referral relationships grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage and maintain consistency. If you fail to record and update a document or processes manual that lays out protocol, you can’t standardize the process. Make sure to include pertinent information and how often you follow up. Keep this information up to date, and make it easily accessible.
No one wants to bear the reputation “jack of all trades, master of none.” Leveraging referral relationships gives you the chance to focus on what you do best while providing value to clients and others within your network. And by utilizing other “masters,” you will grow as an entrepreneur, have more time to spend excelling in your own niche and see more referrals come your way.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Anthony C. Johnson is a managing partner attorney at Johnson & Vines, PLLC (The Lawyer) and the CEO and co-founder of the American Injury Attorney Group (The Ad Man). He received his BA at the University of Arkansas in Computer Engineering and his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He was recently featured on the 2014 Empact Showcase of Top 100 entrepreneurs under 35 across the country. He is on The National Trial Lawyers 40 Under 40 list. He was listed by Arkansas Business as one of the “20 in their 20’s” to look out for in 2012. He was also featured in the April 2012 cover story of the American Bar Association’s Journal as one of “America’s Techiest Lawyers. A version of this article was originally posted here. Connect with @anthonycjohnson on Twitter.