Referrals and networking—these business-development activities look different, feel different, and are different.

Networking and referrals are related, and there is a big difference between them.

Showing Up Counts

Networking is what we do to expand our connections, get ourselves and our brand known, and exchange ideas. You network to make friends, sell a product, promote your company, find a job, find new clients, learn the latest from others, or gain more visibility in the business community. (Network like a pro and pack your pipeline.)

Business networking opportunities exist everywhere: meetings, professional associations, alumni groups, sports groups, community groups, weddings, parties, and any place people come together.

Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.” No matter how you slice it, showing up counts! That’s one of the best networking tips around.

I recommend that all of my clients attend at least one networking event a week. Before you freak out, a networking event can be a group meeting, a 1:1 with a colleague, or a prospect.  Decide on your personal outreach every week, calendar it, and pay for it. (The secret to a strong sales network is showing up: book your sales calendar.)

Personal Connections Deliver

Referral selling is an intentional, disciplined, business-development strategy. Networking helps build the relationships that ultimately become Referral Sources.

Once you get to know people and they get to know you, you will identify many opportunities to provide business referrals. You might refer someone to a potential client, alliance partner, or to a person in a similar business. You might even have a personal referral—to an accountant, banker, or mechanic—a resource that will help another person.

We become referral-marketing sources for others, and others do the same for us. What a great way to build business!

Make the Connection, Build the Network

Networking and referrals go hand in hand. Each business-development activity supports and strengthens the other (like a family that gets along). Support, strengthen, and grow your business: network, build your referral network, and see double-digit returns on your time investment. Relationships still rule.

Comment & Connect

What’s your biggest networking hurdle? It’s always the season to connect: what’s holding you back (can’t find the time, too uncomfortable…)? Share your latest in-person networking and referral success stories and challenges here. I personally respond to all comment.