From my small, local, lovely primary school, where we walked to and from school through little swathes of suburban bush, and my mother did canteen and everyone knew everyone, I went onto an all-girls Catholic high school. (We weren’t Catholic.)

To further my culture shock, high school began with cliques already in place. A swathe of girls came from a particular primary school, with friendships already established. Advantage was clear before we’d even begun.

Like lots of kids during these tumultuous, awkward years, I struggled to find my group and changed a couple of times before settling into my brethren.

In high school, your group was supreme – they had your back, they deflected barbarous words from bullies, and they picked you in sports class (always appreciated by geeks like me). In business, it’s no different.

You need a business mafia – to support you, to make your business bigger than its parts, and to pick you up when the chips are down. Here’s why a business mafia is important – and how to get one.

[Tweet “You need a mafia in business – to support you, to make your business bigger than its parts, and to pick you up when the chips are down – here’s how to get one”]

Referral engine

One of the key roles of marketing is to generate new leads – a business mafia does this for you, naturally and continuously.

Not all prospects are a good fit from a particular business, and we don’t always have the capacity to service all leads. Your mafia’s prospect – who’s a disaster for their business – could be your next perfectly-suited ideal client. Sometimes a mismatch is due to personalities, especially relevant when your business is highly interpersonal. Sometimes the mismatch is due to the particular stage the prospect is at not being appropriate with the particular stage your business services.

You don’t want to convert every single lead into a new, paying client. In fact, many leads cost you money. But these same leads may be awesome new clients for your mafia.

A mafia referring new leads to your business will save you marketing money. So ensure you treat your mafia well to keep those leads coming.

Amplify your reach

You’ve invested considerable time, money and effort into business blogging, email marketing, social media and other marketing endeavours. You need a distribution network to help you get the word out – that’s where your business mafia comes in.

It starts with a simple ‘like’ or ‘retweet’, but the possibilities of amplifying your business reach through collaboration are endless. From guest blogging and interviewing via podcast or video, to hosting Instagram challenges and competitions, and collaborating on events and packages, get creative!

Two businesses are better than one. But when you have a network of respected business professionals actively promoting your content marketing for you? Priceless.

Complementary goods and services

Alongside referrals due to lack of capacity or prospect mismatch, a thriving mafia enables you to refer other complementary goods and services that your clients likely need or want.

Think fitness and dietary professionals; natural fertility support and yoga teachers; financial services and legal services; mortgage brokers and insurance brokers; graphic designers and printers; web developers and copy writers; business development experts and brand strategists.

Your business doesn’t need to offer every complimentary or related service. Generalists are harder to market, harder to establish a strong reputation, and it’s more difficult to charge good money. You’re far better to focus on consolidating your area of expertise and your network of complimentary professionals who your clients and prospects are likely to need before or after they use your business.

No connections – no excuse

Before you start getting discouraged, remember that very few people are born well-connected. From those primary school kids graduating en masse to high school, to leaders, mentors and the ‘internet famous’, very few people have connections and networks they haven’t earned or worked for. Which means that anyone can be well-connected – including you.

It’s simpler than you think to find a business mafia and, like all things, it gets easier with practice.

How to find your business mafia

Start with the obvious – whose business blogs are you reading? Whose business content are you already enjoying? Who is enjoying your content – sharing, retweeting, commenting and liking? This is your mafia. You just may not have realised it.

Now get out your notepad and answer the following:

  • Who are your prospects likely talking to before they hear about your business?
  • Who is actively discouraging people away from your industry or sector?
  • What information do your prospects need to know before they could consider doing business with you?
  • What misconceptions or misinformation do they need to overcome?
  • What information or support do people need after doing business with you?
  • What could help consolidate what you’ve done together, that’s not strictly related to your business?

Now, get Googling. Set a timer. Write a shortlist of business types and second, individual businesses. Ideally, your mafia should be committed marketers – producing regular blogs, podcasts, videos and the like. They should be active on social media. Ideally, they’ll already be promoting other business’s content.

Start with 10 different businesses that you’re seeking to meet. Write the list, stick it to your wall. Start sharing their stuff – the information that relevant, valuable and useful to your clients and prospects. Always frame their links with your own comment. You’re not a bot spitting out “Good job!” “I like this!” “Let’s collaborate!” – so show some personality and intelligence by adding some detail to your comment.

Make it real

Networks aren’t just for the virtual high-fives and feel-good emoticons – powerful networks are those who celebrate each other’s birthdays, are available for panicked or celebratory phone calls, who dance on tables and handstand in parks. These are your brethren – they know the unique stressors and sublime satisfaction of running your business like nobody else.

The final piece of advice is perhaps the hardest: don’t be afraid to reach out beyond social media and email. Pick up the phone. Organise a Skype date. Turn it into coffee or dinner. Make it real. 

You need a mafia for reasons that go way beyond just business and marketing purposes. You need your business mafia to look after your biggest business asset – your attitude.

Find your mafia of Hustlers with Heart! Our Hustle & Heart flagship program includes a thriving community of like-minded, awesome-type folk, and you get lifetime access once you join, of course. Grow your community, get support, ask questions and have more fun in business. Register your interest in the program now.