Several of our previous Biz Tip articles involved advice on networking, building relationships and generating referral business.

We explained why referrals are such a powerful and profitable way to grow your business. In this edition we will share a simple follow-up process that will help you generate more referrals.

Keep in mind there are different levels of referring partners and some are better than others. Start this process with your top referring partners and expand it to your lower volume referral sources as time permits. This is a three-step process.

1. As soon as you receive the referral, make personal contact with the referral source and thank them. You should do this on the phone or schedule a one-on-one meeting. It is very important to call them or meet with them in person. Do not use text or email to thank them as you want the opportunity to expand the conversation. Verbal communication provides the best opportunity for that.

2. Let them know how much you appreciate referrals and that you are committed to building mutually beneficial relationships. Ask them what you can do to help them and offer a few suggestions to get them thinking. Maybe you could introduce them to a good referral source? Would a speaking opportunity be valuable to them? Could you invite them to an event and introduce them to possible referring partners? The goal here is to give incredible value back to them. This will strengthen your relationship and deepen the loyalty. It will also motivate them to keep referring business to you.

3. Whatever you promise to do in step number 2 above, make it happen right away. This may take you some time and effort, but it will be well worth it in the long run. Do not make promises you cannot keep.

By utilizing this simple process, you will build stronger referring relationships. You will build them faster and they will last longer.

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. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.