One of the things we talk about with respect to referrals is that the higher the risk associated with your business, the longer it takes before your network begins to take off. The classic example of this is just about anyone who works in the field of financial services. When you are recommending someone to take care of my long term financial investments, you know that you are really putting your reputation on the line. You probably won’t recommend someone until you’ve known them for years. You might even use them yourself long before you would recommend them to someone else.

The counter example would be something where there is little to no risk. If I asked you where I could buy some flowers for my wife, you could probably think of at least half a dozen businesses which could serve that need. Now, this doesn’t mean that those in the floral business can afford to ignore their relationships. After all, if you can think of six places where I could shop, you are more likely to recommend someone in your network than not.

They also can’t ignore the quality of their merchandise or the responsiveness of their service. Ironically, a strong network actually works against you if you are substandard in any area. Just think about how many times you’ve said something like: “The wait staff aren’t very good, but the food is terrific!”

So, whether you are in a high-risk or low-risk business, continue doing all the things necessary to make that business great. Just be aware that when it comes to developing clientele through networking, the perceived risk defines the networking lag that you might experience.

Photo credit: Michaela Kobyakov