Relationships are an integral part of business success and it’s important to take the time to make them a priority.
The possibilities of having a large and nurtured professional network are endless. The more people you meet, the more people will remember who you are and what you do.
You’ve probably heard Zig Ziglar’s famous quote:
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Building real and mutually beneficial relationships requires consistent and dedicated work over time. In order to build a great community around our brand, you have to put others first and establish ourselves as listeners and helpers.
If you dedicate enough time to building and nurturing a community, it will be there for you when you need it. When done right, our community will be excited to return the support and kindness.
1. Build a Community
Do not focus only on nurturing relationships with your prospects and customers, but expand into to other groups of relationships. These groups might differ based on the type of our business and our goals. They can include our employees, business partners, investors, suppliers, resellers, editors, analysts, bloggers, influencers, strategic partners, third-party developers, advisors, etc.
Maintaining strategic relationships around your business can help raise brand awareness, build an engaged community around your brand, drive word-of-mouth referrals, and more traffic to your website and drive sales.
2. Identify The Right People
Who are the individuals you should focus on and where to find them?
You should first figure out what our goals are and what you are trying to accomplish. A good start can be to focus on the people that already exist around our brand.
Then expand it out to those that can help you reach your goals. Industry influencers and bloggers are a great group to focus on as they have already built engaged communities around them who trust their opinions.
Social media is great for prospecting and networking. My personal favorite is Twitter. The main reason is that it is very easy to start conversations on this platform. Without having to even follow anybody, I can engage in conversations with people from anywhere in the world.
Twitter also has an amazing feature called Lists which are great for filtering the contacts we want to focus on from the rest. Another great way to use Twitter Lists is for identifying who to connect with by subscribing to other people’s lists as explained in this post.
3. Do Research. Take Notice. Start Conversations
The best way to get someone’s attention is to notice something about them. Most business professionals have some kind of social presence or curate and/or create content. Most professionals today also have a LinkedIn profile.
Pay attention to what people are talking about on social media, what they are liking and sharing, what they are excited and passionate about can open doors to starting a conversation. When reaching out, you should make it all about the person and be genuinely interested in them.
4. Jump On A Discovery Call And Learn More About Each Other
, a LinkedIn Trainer, and Social Selling Coach makes networking a priority and asks 20 connections a day to meet for a call and makes 10-12 calls each week. She prepares for her calls and makes it a point to provide great insights, information, and resources to prove that she can be of value to them and make their time worthwhile.
Even if many of these calls don’t lead to an immediate business result, it is a great way to learn more about each other and our companies.
5. Offer Help. Give And Expect Nothing In Return
While on the call, you should aim to establish yourself as a listener and helper. You could offer to make introductions, offer help with spreading the word about the person’s company and services, you could review their latest book or review their product on a review site. It can be small but even small things can go a long way.
6. Follow-up And Keep Your Promises
You should never underestimate the importance of the follow-up. Following up with people on what you have promised and actually doing it can make or break the relationship you have just established.
Sending a quick follow-up email after the call should be a standard thing. In this email, it is polite to thank them for their time and reinstate what you agreed on doing. The next step is to keep our promise. This can be tricky given the number of things you have to get done on daily basis. One way around this is to keep notes in our CRM system, like Nimble and schedule reminders.
7. Stay In Touch And Nurture Relationships Over Time
Relationships won`t grow unless they are nurtured. This can be done in the form of keeping an eye on what our connections are sharing and liking on LinkedIn or other social platforms.
Commenting on a few statuses, answering a few questions, commenting on people’s promotions or other life events does not take too much of our time and can really help with strengthening the relationship. It’s always good to connect with people in multiple places as each social platform is different and offers different opportunities to deepen the relationships.
“LinkedIn is like going into the lobby of your business contact. Twitter is more like going for a walk or taking them to lunch or a ballgame. Facebook is like having dinner in their home. All are great ways to connect. You need at least two of them to be effective. If I was restricted to one I’d choose Twitter. It’s the most relevantly natural way to authentically connect in a human personal way.” [Forbes]
8. Reach Out When The Time is Right
, Speaker, and Social Selling Evangelist says that the ABC in sales no longer stands for “Always Be Closing” but for “Always Be Connecting”.
If you make networking and nurturing our network a priority, be consistent in it and establish ourselves as helpers, connectors and trusted advisors among our community, you will learn that once you need help with something, there will be an army of people willing to help us.