The most stabilising force behind any business I believe is what we call “Networking” or “Business Relationship Building”. I prefer to use the words ‘business relationship marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, netweaving or relationship building’. The reason for this is that people around the world tend to relate the word networking with either multi-level or networking marketing (MLM) programmes. When I first started ‘networking the word networking meant interconnected computer systems.
We discover with time that both friends and supporters are necessary for not only our personal lives but in our business lives as well. There are several reasons for this and different types of relationships too that need to be built.
The making of money isn’t always the reason people do networking.
If you are currently in business you know that the going can get tough and it’s the community and relationships you build around you that can make the difference between keeping your doors open or closing them. Another primary reason is the education you will receive and the guidance you will give in return. Every person you meet has something to teach you. Likewise, you have something to teach them.
Firstly, it can be a good idea to get clarity on where you are in your business. Making a list of the peripheral people that help, edify, teach, refer, or otherwise help you to grow your business is a good first step.
Who are the people who believe in you and are willing to tell you the truth, even when you may not want to hear it? These are your business friends. These people are a very important foundation for your business, especially if you are in small business.
The most important thing in any business is your attitude and the extent of your daily communication skills. This will show how you maintain your integrity and reputation. Consider all your business communications as a stepping stone to not only the person you are communicating with, and hopefully all the people they know as well. Referral is the easiest way to build a good and solid foundation for any business. From this, repeat business is all you need to continue on. It is far easier (and cheaper) to keep a client than look for a new one!
Nurture the opportunities that come your way by providing something of value. It never hurts to be the first person to put something on the table. It builds trust in a world where trust is often challenged.
Don’t turn away every opportunity that won’t make money because sometimes these opportunities build dynamic pathways to larger financial avenues. As an example, consider the editor who began working with a fairly unknown author but had faith in his abilities. As it turned out, this author was a fountain of contacts within the media industry – to other well-known authors, and to additional businesses. The work performed by the editor for free, for this one person, became the best advertising ever generated for her business. In turn, the relationship she built with the author became bonded for life through goodwill.
Let’s consider the possibilities for you to locate additional business relationships.
What organisations do you belong to, discussion lists, open forums, breakfast/lunch networks etc?
I’ve heard too many times from business owners that they do not have time to join groups and socialise. Trust me; you don’t have the luxury not to, especially if you’re a small business. It’s not necessary…it is vital.
Another important business building tool is your business card. This is your shop window. It may be the one thing that makes someone contact you. I am surprised at the numbers of people who either don’t have a business card or don’t have the proper information on them. Your card must be clear, easy to read and give all your details for contact. Add information of what you do and what the services are you offer too. Note that the font needs to be large enough for everyone to read, no matter their age!
I know many people think that having a mobile phone is enough to add into it quickly and easily. I disagree that this is all that is necessary. There are certain personality styles that need to have something in their hand. Once added to the phone it can be easily forgotten. On a card, it will get looked at if only to glance, but that can be enough to get the mind thinking.
I do believe that business cards for small business owners need to have a current photo on it. This makes it easier for people to remember who we are which they are in their office or not likely to see us again. Social media gives us the opportunity to join the dots too.
Another way to support your business is to find someone who you trust to give the same service and professionalism as yourself, who has a complimentary business. You can then support each other in what we call co-operative business building. This is very effective and time-saving.
If you haven’t already started to build your network, it’s time to locate the organisations in your industry and start making friends as well as ad hoc compatible networking groups. It will pay you back one hundredfold. Building relationships in business is an effect and a simple way to build your business if you know how. So consider it as time well spent and get started today!
Do you want to learn more? Click here for other articles on NETWORKING.
Then, contact Jennie Gorman on 0414 278 344 and book into a one-on-one session, or her next Business Relationship Building workshop.
Ready to take yourself and your business to the next level? Let me know!
I’m happy to help you get started. I’m just a phone call away, CALL +61 414-278-344
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