Then It Might Be Time for a Referral Sharing Group
Chambers have long been known for their networking. However, with many networking events, it’s the same several people in the same industries showing up—the insurance salesman, the mortgage person, and the real estate agent. When new attendees come, they’re often feasted upon by the networking veterans and leave feeling like it wasn’t the right atmosphere for them.
When this happens, chambers are in a precarious place. They don’t want to tell salespeople they can’t network, that’s the draw to these events. And they don’t want to kick them out because then who would come? But the value of the networking is diluted in these situations. That’s why chambers need referral groups for successful networking.
Referral Groups Turn Meh Networking Into Mesmerizing Business Opportunities
While referral groups can bring amazing member value to your chamber networking, many chamber leaders don’t think they need them. After all, they already have a coffee networking event every month and it’s well attended. But are your members simply trolling the networking waters or is business occurring?
When examining the success rate of a networking event, don’t count heads. Bringing people in the door and having a crowded room, does not make your event valuable to members. Instead, you need to know if there are interactions leading to relationships. Are business connections and partnerships happening? It’s difficult to do this in a networking event. You can, however, easily track this in a referral group, especially when you have referral software to track the outcomes.
Industry limitations ensure that there is one person to refer to, which increases the possibility of business. With a single representative for each industry, members won’t enter a room full of aggressive salespeople selling the same thing. Plus, when chambers fill up one referral group, they can simply create another. Since the staff time investment is minimal, these groups are easier to create than additional networking events.
Referral groups meet regularly and provide an opportunity for members to get to know, like, and trust one another before giving a referral. That means the referrals that are given are well thought out and more likely to result in a business match. Getting to know one another also creates a professional support system that may help in areas outside of sales. This could lead to increased retention as members will be reluctant to leave the chamber if their friends and professional network are there.
More Member Input
Because referral groups are smaller than open networking events, the group can be personalized to the individual member’s needs. Members can set the time, place, and day ensuring convenience and availability, which are key to ongoing participation.
Why Chambers Love Referral Groups
In addition to the benefits for your members, referral groups are also a favorite among chambers that currently host them. The Conway Chamber of Commerce, The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Little Rock Regional Chamber, and The African American Chamber of Commerce all have referral groups and see great benefit in them because the groups:
- Are Self-sufficient. While they’re associated with the chamber, there is little administration required. The staff time required for referral groups is much smaller than the event planning that goes into breakfast networking and after-hours events.
- Offer Data on Their Outcomes. With many chamber events, the ROI calculation can be tricky. When a chamber referral group uses referral tracking software, chamber staff can easily see the value behind it. And best of all, publish that value to members showing them why referral groups provide a good return.
- Bring a Positive Experience to Members. When members receive leads, business, and revenue from a chamber leads/referral group, they associate those positive outcomes with the chamber itself. This makes chamber membership a marketing tool for their business, improving retention for the organization and helping it recruit new members through word-of-mouth marketing.
If you want to be assured your members are getting value, leads, and business out of your networking efforts, create a chamber referral group. At ChamberForge, our product was born from a chamber referral group. We’re happy to provide insights into how you can bring more value to your members with less time management required of you. Contact us today.If you want to be assured your members are getting value, leads, and business out of your networking efforts, create a chamber referral group. At ChamberForge, our product was born from a chamber referral group. We’re happy to provide insights into how you can bring more value to your members with less time management required of you. Contact us today.