Most business owners agree that referrals are a great source of business. One of the best ways to generate referrals is by building mutually beneficial relationships with quality professionals.

Consider this hypothetical case of a business owner who made a simple mistake. This is a common mistake that may cost a business in many ways.

Pete owns a residential pest control company and gets most of his business from realtors. One of them, “Realtor Rhonda,” sends Pete more business than any other. When Pete knows someone who wants to buy or sell a house, he refers them to Realtor Rhonda.

There is another real estate agent who works with Pete, her name is Amy. While “Agent Amy” does not send Pete as many direct referrals, she does other things to help Pete.

Amy introduces Pete to other good referral sources like property managers and home inspectors. Amy also placed Pete’s marketing materials in her office so the other 300 realtors might do business with him as well.

Amy and her collective connections wrote several online reviews for Pete on websites like Yelp and Google+. These reviews help Pete’s website appear at the top of the search engine pages. Now he gets more clients from online inquiries than ever before.

While Amy does not send as many direct referrals as Rhonda does, collectively her efforts produced more business for Pete than Rhonda ever could.

Pete never gave Agent Amy credit for the indirect business she generated and kept referring his buyers and sellers to Rhonda. After a year or two, Amy was forced to find a different pest control company to build a mutually beneficial relationship with. Eventually all of her collective benefits shifted away from Pete and directly to his competitor.

The moral of the story is this: Pay attention to the value everyone brings to your business. Find a way to help all of those who support you.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.