Oftentimes, we hear others lament the notion that business is not about what you know, but who you know.
And while there is plenty of room for discussion about how things ought to be, the truth is no matter how small your business is, you can level the playing field by building your own repertoire of connections. From your Facebook page to the next conference you attend, the world is full of interested, powerful people…
You simply have to create the relationship.
With a few simple techniques, you can build relationships and start experiencing the influence larger companies enjoy. Here are a few ways you can connect with others through online and offline networking, and create real relationships that will help nurture and grow your business:
Shift the focus.
Many people attend countless after-hours business functions for the purpose of networking, yet they come up short. That’s because they are more focused on what they can get from the other person than about what they can give to the other person. Instead of only considering what you can gain from a contact, you have to change your way of thinking.
Instead, start with them. As you approach the small group, even online, start by commenting on their work, and focus on being present. The key for both online and offline networking is to genuinely interact with other people. People like doing business with people, and if they are to do business with you, they have to like your personality. Give them the chance to see who you are and what you’re about.
Center on mutual benefits.
Figure out how you can help someone else, and make yourself available to that person. It’s important to be helpful to the other person far before you ask for something. After all, this is where trust and credibility is established. Once you’ve demonstrated to that person you are interested in their needs first, they know they can expect the same treatment should they decide to work with you.
Always have a condensed and simple story to retell about you.
We’ve all heard first impressions are everything, so make yours count. Have a quick elevator-like pitch that rolls off your tongue when someone asks what you do. Keep it casual, personable, and easy to understand. Bonus points if you can use humor!
Make your first “ask” small.
If you have a great conversation with someone, and then you ask for something small—like if they would do a quick Q&A for your blog over email—you’re more likely to get a yes. And though the ask is small, it’s part of building a larger relationship with that person.
Don’t forget the follow-through.
Keep in touch! Most successful relationships take time to build, so don’t sweep your new connection under the rug once you’ve received what you asked for. Successfully managing relationships in business means properly balancing the pursuit of new customer relationships with the nurturing of old ones.
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