5 Steps to Target and Secure a Referral Network

Generally, referral partners fall into two categories: those who you are currently working with and those who fit the profile of people and businesses who you wish to target as referral partners.

In its whitepaper, The state of business partner referral programs, Amplifinity shares a few statistics gathered from its use of partner referral programs, including:

  • A conversion rate of 41% of leads referred by its referral partners

  • 4.7 leads per referral partner

  • 69% of referral partners actively refer throughout the year

Imagine if your business had, say, 10 referral partners. Using Amplifinity’s numbers, that’s 47 extra leads each year, and around 20 extra sales. If you build your referral partner program to 100 partners, this becomes 200 extra sales each year. Amplifinity has 1,250 partners enrolled in its referral partner program. You do the math!

The potential for a referral partner program to produce such astounding results makes every business I work with salivate with excitement. You’ve probably done some mental gymnastics yourself by now. The question you want answered is, “How to get referral partners?”

Who should you target as referral partners?

Your first port of call to start your network of referral partners should be your existing business relationships. You customers, vendors, and other businesses and people you currently work with. They know your strengths, and can testify to your uniqueness in your market. However, why stop there?

Another great source of referral partners is to be found from people and businesses with whom you share a non-competitive affinity. An example of this might be a wedding photographer. They can develop partnerships with other businesses such as catering companies, cake makers, florists, beauticians, wedding dress designers, wedding outfitters, venues, and travel agents. That’s a powerful network of potential leads and sales for all these connected businesses.

Getting referral partners

You must be methodical when getting referral partners. Here’s the structure of a strategy that I have honed over many years. It’s tried and tested, and proven to produce results. Follow this step-by-step process:

  1. Be referrable

This is the most important piece of the partnership puzzle. You must be referrable. What I mean by this is to ensure that you do what you say you will. Be consistent. Be accountable should things go wrong. Provide great service and/or products, and make certain that your customer service is second to none.

Okay, now we’ve got this straight, let’s move on.

  1. Identify your ideal referral partners

Your ideal partners for your referral model will be those who can deliver referrals to your ideal customers. (Yes, you must identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) first.) 

Think about what businesses your ideal referral partners may provide, the types of people and businesses they are likely to work with, the customers they serve, and how closely matched these customers are likely to be to your ICP. 

You should use LinkedIn to connect with your ideal partners – more about this in a moment.

  1. Ask your existing partners for referrals

Introduce your referral program to those in your existing network who possess the traits you have identified as important traits of your ideal referral partners. These will be a great place to start your referral partnership program. Explain the program to them, and ask for referrals.

Start with one partner – review results and refine until you get it right. Then unleash!

  1. Spread your net

With your program delivering results, it’s now time to look for more referral partners. You know who you are seeking – you defined them in the second step. 

As you search out these potential partners, consider if you would do business with them, if you would like them, and if you would feel comfortable referring to them. You’ll find many, many potential partners on LinkedIn. Here’s a summary of how to do so:

  • Click on the search bar (in the top-left corner of LinkedIn)

  • Type in your top-level search (e.g. marketing manager) and hit the enter key

  • Select search criteria from the next level list (e.g. people, groups, companies, etc.) 

  • Follow the same routine as you work through, selecting location, industry, company size, etc.

Now you can begin to do some deeper research, identifying the businesses and people who look like good potential referral partners. To ensure these are people to connect with, search their connections – and ensure that these are people you would like to connect with for business purposes.

  1. Give (value) to receive (value)

Always give to receive. Consider how you might contribute value to their business or professional life by sharing ideas, resources, recommendations, and introductions, and helping to solve their problems.

Manage your referrals partners

As you would with customers, it is important to manage and maintain your referral partners. You’ll need to communicate regularly, reach out often, and ensure that you update them on any changes you make to your services, your ICP, and your referral program.

Is this hard work? It can be. But maintaining a referral network is much easier and much less work than searching for your own leads, cultivating them, cold-calling prospects, and then moving those prospects through your sales funnel. 

The best bit is, much of the work you must do to maintain and manage referral partner relationships can be automated or done by sales assistants – including connecting with potential partners on LinkedIn. (Feel free to contact me and learn how.)

In my next article, I discuss how to structure your referral rewards program. In the meantime, take this assessment and learn if you are the right fit for my sales acceleration program.


Publish Date:5/21/2021 12:00:00 AM
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5 Steps to Target and Secure a Referral Network
Generally, referral partners fall into two categories: those who you are currently working with and those who fit the profile of people and businesses who you wish to target as referral partners.
In its whitepaper, The state of business partner referral programs, Amplifinity shares a few statistics gathered from its use of partner referral programs, including:

A conversion rate of 41% of leads referred by its referral partners

4.7 leads…

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