Synopsis – Effective Internet marketing tactics often boil down to personal relationships. Whether built through anonymity on a discussion forum, within a social network, or developed through an introduction at a conference, the ability to develop and nurture personal relationships is a powerful, must-know skill. Online or off — relationship skills are vital. In this article, Mary Ellen Tribby offers advice that applies to any business environment.
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7 Steps To Building Money Making Relationships
In order to be successful in business, you not only need to have in-depth knowledge of your field, you also have to be well-connected in your community with quality individuals who can assist you along the way. Today, many small business owners and professionals turn to networking as a means of building these types of connections, considering it an important part of gaining success. They believe gathering a large amount of phone numbers and acquaintances provide a foot in the door to instant success.
I disagree. In fact, I have started to re-evaluate what the act of networking stands for today, and have even come to despise the word “networking” itself. I ask myself, “Does networking really gain you any success in terms of business?” Setting out to gain a contact, or merely to get a new business card, seems pointless to me. And, making a contact only to see how they can serve me, seems cold and sterile.
When I meet a new contact for my business, my goal is not to put their information in my address book. It’s not to see what they can do for me. It’s not even to network with them. It’s to make a real connection. I want to find out who this person truly is and what their business is truly about. I want to find out if our goals and missions are somehow synergetic, and if a partnership could actually bring each of us more success. Making a real connection is not about what they can do for me. It’s about how we can both serve each other best. It’s about whether each of our purposes aligns and how we can assist each other’s communities long term. It is from this place that real deals and partnerships tend to occur.
Very often, people allow opportunities for valuable partnerships to pass them by, feeling intimidated about putting themselves out there and hesitating when the right situation comes along. This discomfort can come across as disinterest rather than fear. The person with whom you mean to connect may feel the only interest lies in what they can provide, rather than how you can partner together.
Pushing through this feeling of discomfort is essential for building successful connections. Sure, it is uncomfortable, but in the long run, the loss of the potential relationship will have a much more permanent effect. Don’t let any opportunity pass you by. Eliminate nervousness or intimidation by putting your attention on the person with whom you want to connect. Ask questions and follow up. Eventually, the act of connecting will become second nature and naturally occur with everyone you meet.
Another important factor is the quality of the connections you make. You may be friendly with lots of people. In fact, you may be a social butterfly. But if these acquaintances are not creating results for your business, there is no monetary value in their connection to you. Ask yourself if a specific connection is someone you could call on when you need an introduction to a new market or the big players in that market? If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your process for establishing new connections.
To me, making the right connections means being acquainted with influential people in such a way that the relationship is beneficial for both. It means having real relationships with influential people whom you can call on for help, and to whom you can also serve some purpose to in return.
This is different from the old belief that as long as you have the contact information for the power brokers in your industry, you have “networked” and now you have the right connections. In my view, this kind of “I’ll call you when I need something” relationship will never work. You must serve some purpose to your target person or this person will not serve any purpose for you.
For example, you may have the contact information for the CEO at Big Brand Manufacturing, but if you have not spoken to him since you met him at a luncheon a year ago, this contact is of no value to you. If you want some promotional items made for a new business venture and you decide to give Big Brand CEO a call for a cut in the regular rate for such items, do you really believe he’s going to give you the big “friend” discount that you want?
You have to create a genuine relationship between you and your contacts to be truly successful. For them to be of any value to your business, you must learn to be of value to theirs.
Here are seven steps to follow to build money-making business connections with people you meet.
1. Treat each contact as you would a friend — Make long-lasting connections with people who you see as beneficial business contacts. A phone call or email every month will keep you in the person’s mind. See how you can assist them and only ask for something in return when it is absolutely necessary. You will only receive benefits from your contacts if there is a real connection between the two of you. If not, they owe you no obligation.
2. Try to be of benefit to your connections — When you make a business contact you see you can be of assistance to, make sure you communicate this in a way that shows you want to help them out as well. This sets you apart from the rest, showing the worth for him/her to take your business card..
3. Remember that the first impression lasts — If your contact decides to take you up on an offer and partner with you, make sure that your work etiquette is impeccable. This will create a good, lasting first impression in this person’s mind that you are a good person to do business with. They will not only want to work with you in the future — they will refer you to others.
4. It is better to give than to receive — Your main aim when you meet a new contact is to ascertain what help you could get from them, but you have to be willing to be of some benefit to them. You may not be able to “move mountains” for your contact, but little things add up. Eventually, you will have built something much more valuable than just a connection. You will have built a long-lasting relationship and partnership that will bring you financial benefit for years to come.
5. Be cheerful and upbeat — Whenever you communicate with any of your contacts, make sure your attitude is cheerful and inviting. Everybody loves a person who is upbeat and engaging. Do not go overboard or be fake, or you will come across as pretentious. Be genuine and interested and you will naturally attract connections everywhere you go.
6. Grasp what is important to your contact and make a connection between both of your priorities — If you know their goals and priorities, it will be easier for you to find a way to be beneficial to each other. Ask questions and be interested in them and their business. Take it a step further and find out what they need and where they want to go in the future. Knowing these things is one of the most important building blocks to creating key money making connections. After all, you want others to know such things about you, and asking these questions opens doors to all kinds of future partnerships.
7. Do not start the conversation with what you want — Never start a conversation with a new contact with what you think they can do for you. This person has likely had many propositions about “brilliant” ideas before, and will categorize you as just another networker. Make a personal connection with the person first. Maybe you went to the same high school or were in the same sorority in college? This is a much better way to start a conversation and connect with your contact.
Paying attention to these seven tips will help develop actual connections and relationships with your business contacts that will build strong, profitable partnerships. You will also find it easier seek help from them in the future and to communicate with them on a regular basis.
It is said that it isn’t “what” you know that brings you success — it is “who” you know. Cultivate your relationships and you will skyrocket your success and build a powerful, profitable business and community.