The key concept in building a business by referral is through relationships. It works best because the relationships work both ways and benefit both parties.
However, relationships don’t just spring up and appear. They must be nurtured and looked after. As they grow, fed by mutual trust and shared benefits they evolve through three phases – Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. We call this evolution the VCP Process.
Think about a business or personal relationship that you have made. It may start out tentatively, full of possibilities and expectations. It then grows stronger with experience and familiarity before maturing into trust and commitment.
You have gone through these phases in your relationships and you can probably recognise the above. Indeed, some relationships may not get past the first phase and fizzle out and fade if they are not nurtured and looked after, or both parties may decide that it is not worth pursuing.
For the purpose of this article we are going to examine your relationships related to networking and your referrals.
Think about your network and the people you know. Could you evaluate and rate the relationships based on where you are in the VCP process with them?
In Visibility we are still in the getting to know you phase and gaining more information about each other. The test to determine if you are in Visibility is whether you know who they are, what they do, and do they know the same about you.
Moving into the next phase of a relationship is into Credibility where we are starting to build reliability and confidence in each other, and expectations are fulfilled. How do you create credibility? It is when your actions back up your promises. Failure to live up to expectations or your promises can kill a budding relationship. Often, people turn to others to determine how credible you are and ask for testimonials. What do others say about you and how can you show this credibility to others?
The final phase of the relationship is when it moves into Profitability – however be careful – this does not necessarily mean in terms of money and revenue! A profitable relationship is one that is mutually rewarding for both parties and is normally determined when you are proactively passing and receiving referrals between you. This may take time to develop and it is not always easy to determine when profitability has been achieved – with some relationships the process can be quite quick, with others it may be longer.
Each relationship must pass through all these phases. You can’t skip one or jump the process. Equally you can’t rush the process and the value of the relationships will be how you manage and nurture them through this process.
The good news is that most businesses only need a few profitable referral relationships to be very successful.
Your job is to determine who these people are in your network that you could develop to this stage and what you need to do to get there.
It may sound simple but it’s sometimes not easy!
I’d love to hear how you develop your relationships and if you have any questions or want to learn about how to move your networking relationships through this process then give me a call or drop me an email and I’d be happy to help.