There's all this talk about networking, online and in person, and building relationships. What does it mean? How can it benefit you and your business?
Networking should be a vital piece of your marketing puzzle. But the point of networking is not just to have lots of contacts and build your list. You want to build relationships with people so they can get to know and trust you. You also want to get to know and trust them so you can confidently refer them to people you know. Because one of the best ways to get word of mouth referrals is to start giving referrals yourself.
Building relationships means more than just connecting on Twitter or Facebook or emailing someone whose business card you received at a networking meeting. You need to take further steps. Pick up the phone and make a call. If they are in your local area arrange a time to meet and talk. Visit their website and other social networking sites to learn something about them before you approach them. Ask them about what they are interested in before you start telling them anything about yourself. Show a real interest in the other person.
As you start building relationships you will find there are key people who you are drawn to and are drawn to you. They may start referring people to you and vice versa. These key relationships are ones you want to strengthen and maintain.
Take a few minutes and make a list of the top four people in your network that you want to build stronger relationships with. Think about why these four are important contacts. Are they easy to work with or get along with? Do they send you referrals regularly? Are they good listeners with good ideas? Note that information down along with their name.
Now think about what you've given to that particular relationship. Do you spend time on their blog or connecting with them on a regular basis on Twitter? Do you send them referrals regularly? What do you do for them to help them achieve their goals?
Next think about the last time you had a meaningful exchange with that person. Schedule time each month to connect in a meaningful way with that person to continue growing your relationship.
As you take time to build these relationships by networking you will find that there is an increase in your satisfaction. You may also find a measurable increase in the number of referrals you give and receive.
Who are you going to contact today in order to continue building a relationship?