Business Network International (BNI) has reported a record increase in the amount of business passed through ‘word of mouth’ referrals in 2009.
BNI, which has more than 15 000 SME members in the UK, that activity engage in structured business networking every week, increased the amount of business passed between members in 2009 by 21% which translated to £230 million – up from £185 million in 2008. This is the single biggest annual increase in the organisation’s 14-year history in the UK.
Charlie Lawson, BNI’s national director, said, “The recession has changed the way people do business but more importantly the route which SMEs are using to market themselves. The advent of ‘word of mouth referrals’ has proven people are more likely to spend their money on a product or service if it has been directly recommended to them as the nation has become more cautious about the way it spends. It’s not widely known that 98 per cent of businesses rely on referrals for gaining new business, yet only three per cent have a strategy for gaining word of mouth referrals - this is why many small businesses have turned to and have increased this crucial marketing activity.”
All business referrals exchanged between BNI members are tracked to ensure they have resulted in a qualified invoiced piece of business.
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