1) Arrange a one-to-one meeting. Meeting a referral source in person is an excellent opportunity to learn more about his or her business and interests. Prepare questions in advance so that the conversation flows smoothly. Be ready to give an update on and to ask lots of questions about your source’s interests.
2) Send a thank-you card. A handwritten thank-you card makes a great impression, especially in this age of electronic communication. If you’d rather send something online, SendOutCards.com is a useful resource.
3) Send a gift. Like a thank-you card, a gift, however small or inexpensive, can help build visibility and credibility with your referral source. Try to find out what his or her likes are, such as favorite foods, hobbies, etc., and send a gift that is personalized.
4) Call a referral source. An occasional, casual phone call is a good way to keep the relationship strong. It’s also a good idea to have a piece of news or some tidbit of to pass along that will benefit or interest your referral source.
5) Display a source’s brochure. Doing a bit of sales on behalf of a referral source can only enhance your relationship. If you have a public area for your business or are doing a trade show, offer to place your source’s materials where your clients can read them.
6) Extend an invitation. Invite a referral source to a networking event. Introducing him or her to other businesspeople you know gives your source an opportunity to meet others in your target market. It may also provide opportunities for you both.
7) Nominate them for an award. Watch for these types of opportunities in publications like Crain’s and CORP Magazine, local service and civic organizations. Find out what groups and interests in which your referral source is involved and check to see if there is a form of recognition associated with them.
8) Include a source in your newsletter. Even a brief mention of a referral source in your newsletter can pay dividends down the road, including the opportunity for them to reciprocate the favor in their own newsletter.
9) Arrange a speaking engagement. Help your referral source get in front of a group that would be interested in his or her area of expertise. Local chapters of service organizations, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, are always looking for good speakers.
10) Turn the table. Offer your referral source a referral s/he might find useful. It’s often a wonderful way to build your relationship. By helping to build your source’s business, you help create a debt of gratitude that will encourage your source to respond in kind.