It’s been said that it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters in business. The problem is that you can know a lot of people but not have built relationships with them, and then the fact that you know these people really doesn’t matter at all. That’s why today I’ll be showing you how to create success through relationship-building.
Why Relationship-Building Is Key to Business Growth
Every time you meet someone new, he or she has a network of about 250 people. Some of those people could be potential clients, customers, business partners, or friends. If you make the right impression with the people you meet, you can expand your own personal network exponentially, growing the opportunities for you and for your business quite rapidly.
We know that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, but they also have to need your products or services and believe that you can do exactly what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. If you can make that happen then you’ll have given your clients and customers proof that their trust in you is well-founded, resulting in more referrals and business growth.
Further, if someone isn’t a client or customer now, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be in the future. If you focus on the relationship instead of the immediate sale, you’ll have something that lasts a great deal longer and is much more valuable in the long run.
Related Class: Success Through Relationship Building
The Kinds of Relationships You Need
In my book, Business in Blue Jeans, I refer to the assortment of relationships that any business owner needs as “The Village,” because every business, like every child, takes a village to survive and thrive. There are five neighborhoods in your village:
- The Networking Neighborhood: This is a big neighborhood with lots of loose connections.
- The Mastermind Neighborhood: This is a small neighborhood, with tighter relationships and bonds, formed around advancing a shared goal or an industry.
- The Administrative Neighborhood: This is the neighborhood where the people who make your business run well live. We’re talking about graphic designers, assistants, salespeople, office managers, social media managers—all of the people who do the work of your business so it can run better.
- The Advisory Neighborhood: This is where all of the people who keep you on-track and out of trouble live. It’s where you’ll find lawyers, accountants, consultants, and coaches.
- The Customers and Clients Neighborhood: This is the place where all of the people who buy your products and services live.
We need all of these relationships for business growth and success.
The Actual Relationship-Building Itself
Relationship-building isn’t about getting to know how others can be of benefit to you. It’s about how you can be of benefit to others. And that doesn’t mean looking at the other person as a prospect that you can qualify or trying to find a way to re-word your sales pitch so that it sounds like you’re giving them a gift. It’s about getting to know people as human beings and having conversations to find out more than just, “What do you do for a living?”
In fact, when you meet someone for the first time, whether it’s in a networking context or another one, try not asking what he or she does for a living. We’re all more than our job, and looking for other questions that might help you get to know the person better will help you to get outside the ordinary and communicate on a human level, which is a much stronger foundation for a relationship to form.
When Is It Time To Sell?
When you listen and become curious about other people, you’ll find out if there’s an opportunity or not. You won’t have to convince anyone to buy anything. Listen and find out what’s going on with that person and what their frustrations are, and you’ll know if there’s a good fit or if there’s an opportunity for business.
All of this may sound counterintuitive, because it’s the opposite of what you’ve probably learned about sales. But if you build relationships the right way, if you focus on the person, the opportunities will arise organically.
Note that this has nothing to do with marketing, which can open doors to other opportunities, conversations, and relationships. I’m not saying you don’t have to market your business. I’m saying that when you enter into a conversation, remember you’re talking with another human being—not a prospect or a potential client or customer, but a human being.
Where to Start Building?
Opportunities arise when you put yourself in the right situations. Social media is a wonderful place to initiate relationships with interesting and, yes, strategic people. Be sure to take the conversation offline to the phone or to an in-person meeting. Social media is a good start, but you want to get off the computer and into the real world to take the relationship further.
And when you do go offline, turn off your phone, your ringers, and notifications, and be present. We spend far too much time noodling on our phones and answering calls and texts when we’re in the presence of other people. The one thing you can do to build relationships quickly is to give the other person your complete focus and attention.
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone at a networking event or business function try not talking about business. Try simply getting to know the other person and forging a relationship. The business matters will come organically. Instead, just focus on value and relationship-building, and see where it leads.