Building Referrals with Social Media

You can spread the word about your business through word of mouth, traditional marketing, crowdfunding, and social media. Another longstanding method is to create a referral network of other businesses who serve the same customer segments. Referrals can save time and money, and help keep capital local. And finally, these relationships can be a valuable source of feedback about your product.

This article is based in part upon the "Networking and Social Media Workshop" taught by Michael Gray (Online BizSmarts) and Bill Nordbrock (Tucson Business Club), for SCORE, on July 29, 2015.

In theory it's simple: identify one of your business's customer segments, then build a coalition of businesses who also target those audiences.

In reality, it's more difficult. How do you find them? Build trust? Keep it ethical?

Finding the influencers (Bill Nordbrock)

  • Use your competition to find influencers and strategic people: who are they connected to?
  • Ask yourself: who do I want to work with?
  • Set up a meetup! The in-person contact will reinforce what you do online and via social media. Set up workshops and events aimed at potential partners.

Meeting and Networking Tips (Bill Nordbrock)

  • Have a great product
  • Plan a mixer
  • Be a matchmaker
  • Stay in touch with previous customers; ask for testimonials
  • "How can I promote your event?"
  • Connect, have coffee
  • Show up at area meetups, and network. What might you say? "Tell me about your business so I can see where I can help you."

Specifically, on social media, you can

  • Ask questions, look for ways you can offer help
  • Engage, respond, listen
  • Write reviews or comment
  • Make it easy for them to find you
  • Demonstrate your expertise with quality content
  • Add value: helpfulness feels different from sales
  • Only 1 in 10 posts should be direct self-promotion
  • On Facebook, turn the tagging monitoring on
  • On Twitter, setup subject and name alerts
  • On Meetup, setup event alerts
  • Check your own profile: is it easy for people to refer someone to you? Is your phone listed? Your website?

Above all, make sure you can answer the question: what's in it for them.


Come to the January 2016 "Find Your Influencers' Catalyst Cafe at the Library to discuss business strategic partnerships with Bill Nordbrock, the Founder of the Tucson Business Club, and a longtime SCORE mentor.
When: Tuesday, January 14, 2016, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Where: Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., Tucson AZ. Free. Parking under the library is free after 5pm.
Who: businesses and nonprofits who are curious about how to find local people and businesses who are influential within your customer segments.

Related article: Strategic Partnerships