Building A Better Business by Networking
The most stabilising force behind any business, I believe, is ‘Networking’ or ‘Business Relationship Building’. I prefer to use the words ‘business relationship marketing’, ‘word of mouth marketing’ or ‘business relationship building’ as people around the world often relate the word ‘networking’ with either multi-level marketing or interconnected computer systems.
Not only do we need friends and supporters in our personal lives, we also need them in business. There are several reasons for this, and several types of relationships that need to be built.
Making money isn’t always the reason. If you are currently in business you know 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 having to close them. Another primary reason for relationship building is mutual support and contribution – education and guidance you both give and receive. Every person you meet has something to teach you. Likewise, you have something to teach them.
Sometimes, it can be a good idea to get clarity about where you are in your business by making a list of the peripheral people that help, edify, teach, refer, or otherwise help you to grow your business. 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.
People used to refer to the ‘old boys network’, a group of mates, usually men, who referred their buddies for future business. There is a difference in the marketplace today though. Where once people referred friends and colleagues without considering the effectiveness of these contacts, I now believe people work more on the level of ‘trust’ rather that just the ‘like’. A referral is a reflection of you in the marketplace so make sure you give one that will be successful if followed up.
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 but all the people they know as well. Word of mouth is a powerful tool to harness. Referral is the easiest way to build a good and solid foundation for any business, and the repeat business that comes from it strengthens it. It is far easier (and cheaper) to keep an existing 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. While you do need to look after your cash flow, it can be a good idea to sometimes consider opportunities that won’t make money, because sometimes these opportunities build dynamic pathways to larger financial avenues.
A good example of this is the female publicist 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 publicist 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 find and build more business relationships. What organisations do you belong to, discussion lists, open forums, breakfast networks etc? I’ve heard too many times from business owners that they do not have time to join groups and ‘socialise’. Believe me, you don’t have the luxury not to, especially if you have a small business. It’s not only necessary…it’s vital.
The most 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 present professionally or don’t have the proper information on them. Your card must give all your contact details as well as information of what you do and what services you offer.
Another way to support your business is to find someone whom 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. It will pay you back one hundred fold. Building relationships in business is in effect building your business, so consider it time well spent and get started today!
Jennie is available for one-on-one sessions via Skype or in person.
For more information email her at email@example.com