Don´t be selfish in this regard, it will come back to haunt you. I recently had a client who was interested in prospects who were hiring firms to handle some events for them. I met with both the President as well as the Business Development Manager and gave them both a list of leads that I knew were interested in working with a firm similar to theirs. Over several months I referred business to them and while they were in no way expected to return the favor, I never heard so much as a thank you for the referrals (they eventually landed a huge client because of those leads). Needless to say I no longer refer any more business to them (I give them to their competitors instead). I think it´s just good business (and common courtesy) to not only thank someone for a referral, but to also let the person know the outcome of the referral. And an occasional bottle of wine is good too. I have a former client who years after our last contract still refers business to me. And I always take her out for drinks or buy her a bottle of wine in addition to giving her updates. I am always grateful to her (Thanks Suzanne) for always thinking of me for her new clients. Not only do I appreciate it but I´ve grown to rely on her good judgment and advice. The bottom line is that it´s okay to try to help another firm while building your own empire It´s good karma not to mention good business.
Joining a networking or referral group is a great way to pick up referrals as well because most are started specifically to offer small business owners business thru referrals. Keep in mind that not all groups are the same and you´ll need to find a group that fits your need. So check around before committing.
So my final though on referrals is this"?¦"?¦
"?¢ Referrals can be a fantastic way for generating new accounts but only if you remember to ask for them.
"?¢ Relying solely on referrals for bringing in business is never a good thing because they tend to dry up
"?¢ Be willing to give referrals as well as get them
"?¢ Don´t forget to thank the person for a referral. A "thank you" note or bottle of wine goes a long way to future referrals.
"?¢ Find a networking or referral group that offers both referrals and support. Having a referral without knowing what to do with it is just wasteful.