Big mistake people make when starting a referral marketing program is the idea that referrals should be transactional.
-“I gave you two referrals I expect two back” approach will never work because we do not offer the same services. An example of this would be comparing one referral sale by a restaurant vs that of a referral for a Realtor. The Restaurant would have a lower value than a sale for a Realtor, which would take much longer. A realtor that tells the restaurant, "I sent you a referral, now you need to send me one" would never be fair.
Networking is more like farming then it is hunting. Salesman go out to make a sale, a networker goes out and plant seeds for referrals regardless of how many referrals they provide.
You must also consider your referral sources. Just because someone refers you does not make them a good business person. Even bad business people will refer you back. To succeed with your referral program long term you must refer for the benefit of your customers first, they will ultimately become your greatest referral source.
Remember the benefits to giving referrals without getting them in return
-Helping someone that’s in need of a service you cannot provide
-Knowing your client, family, friend, is going to be taken care of by somebody that gives good service. They do not know how to refer but they provide great service
-Building an array of services that people seek you out for (the "I know a guy" guy, which if they come to you for everything, when they are in need for your service they will seek you out as well)
You can’t just refer anybody, what if they provide bad service? We need to get to know each other through the following:
-seeing each other often (weekly meetings, one-on-ones, etc)
-getting testimonials from others
-Educating yourself about with what your referral partner does