I love the title of Gene Marks’ article in Forbes.com, Scratching Your Competitor’s Back. It is good sound advice to refer a customer to someone else when the customer isn’t a good fit for you. And that brings up reason #3 to network*! Networking is an excellent way to find out who else provides similar or complementary services and find out from other business people what sort of reputation your competitors have. That’s important because you don’t want your own reputation to be affected negatively by sending someone to a less-than-competent competitor.
Where you network depends on the business you’re in. If there is an industry association in your field, visit some of their meetings. Or you may have good luck with your local Chamber of Commerce or merchant’s association.
Marks’ title is great because you probably remember the second part of, “You scratch my back…”. That’s it: “…And I’ll scratch yours.” Referring business to other companies frequently results in referrals coming back to you. But when your business is new, you may have to network to find others to whom you feel good about sending referrals.
My own consulting business does this. We have a lot of skills in our marketing and sales consulting group, but there are some specialties we don’t have, and so we have developed partner relationships with others who provide pricing services, search marketing services, etc.
OK, now you have three good reasons to find time for networking. Go out and do it!