We have heard this phrase in one form or another in school, in the community, our churches, our sports teams and in our politics. What does it really mean? And how does it apply when it comes to moving our businesses forward .
I think most of us understand that we cannot live in a vacuum. We need to engage others to be able to grow our businesses and realize revenues and profits. A lot of us make efforts to get the word out through traditional forms of marketing which are important tools. Included in this strategic package and especially important when you are starting out or running a small business, is the ability to connect with business partners and potential clients.
Connection means more than contact. It alludes to permanency. The stronger the bonds in that connection, the greater the relationship. It is like the fibers in rope they need to be strong in the strands as they are in the whole to really accomplish the job.
Because our lives are so full of activity , out of necessity, we tend to segment everything to garner the best efficiencies. However, in that effort, we often miss the mark and forget the art and the spirit that must accompany any action to build authentic relationships.,
For example, I met someone at a local business event. We found out in our brief conversation about ourselves a little bit of what we did and also saw some potential for mutual opportunities. We set a time to meet again.
We met at a cafe a few days after the event. We had planned for an hour. He immediately ran our meeting like a check off list. He had a tool that he used to make sure he gathered all the information he needed from me. He went through it point by point. He, then, ask me about what I needed. I really had little to share. At that point I did not want to share anything. He looked at his watch and said he had to end the meeting because he had a super booked day of appointments. We exchanged goodbyes and he left.
First, before I proceed, I am not against tools or checklists. However, they are simply guides for you that you should prepare for before hand. They do not run you. They can be a real distraction in a one on one meeting, if you simply read a list. Remember, to build strong business relationships, you are also interacting and building bonds person to person. People react favorably to a warm human being not a robotic, list reading machine.
Some other tips:
- Always ask the other person first about themselves , their business their needs and how you can help them. By offering yourself as a resource it not only strengthens the business relationship, it starts a synergy where they will want to be a resource to you.
- Everyone is busy. Although we need to manage our time well, becoming a “time-zilla” will be a big turn off to people. Learn to phrase things to acknowledge, that you appreciate the time they took to meet with you. If you need to leave, add something like this, ” I really want to continue our discussion so we think of more ways to work together. However, I just need toget to another appointment now. Is is possible to meet with you on … Thank you so much for your understanding.” Phrases like this show that you are respectful of their time and that you truly are interested in them. They should feel that they are the most important person to you at that interaction.
- Follow up no later than 48 hours with an email or Thank You card.
- Continue to regularly contact: invite to events, cafe meetings, lunch and develop the relationships.
I also like to say while speaking to the title of this post, that realizing that we are truly connected, takes down the barrier of the excuse that certain contacts from whatever industry are irrelevant. I believe we weed out too many contacts from our list because of our speed networking mindset these days. If we recognize that these are foremost, people first, and then the understanding will flow into our minds that they are potentially a link to a client, a business partner , or a source. They could be all three. With some of them , your contact with them may not be as often , face to face. They still remain connections. However, it is important that you contact them in some way to nurture that connection on a regular basis.
To dismiss a contact ( person) simply because of your narrow criteria , may cost you finding your biggest client.
Once I learned this I gained clients I never would have accessed. My mind, then my heart, followed by actions with belief, finally allowed me to understand this truth. To be successful in business you need to live the principle that “We are all connected.”
- Social media pays off for businesses (bizjournals.com)
- Go From Employee to Entrepreneur: 4 Tips (inc.com)
- Featured Business Owner – Terry Hefter of Terry Hefter Associates LLC (learnedatscore.wordpress.com)
- House Rules: The Truth About Getting Work From Me (abovethelaw.com)
- Getting Connected: Some habits to emulate in New Year (lfpress.com)
- Facebook Business Growth (mediabeetlesuk.com)
- biz tips :: using twitter to grow your business (confessionsofadesigngeek.com)
- LinkedIn: A Sales Tool Not To Be Ignored (yourmarketingmgr.com)
- Networking can benefit your business (publicrelationssydney.com.au)
- The Abundant Field For The Connector (leddybizcon.wordpress.com)