At the very core of marketing a small business is building relationships. Relationships bring you new customers, they influence your popularity, they spread your ideas, and much more. Small businesses that don’t build relationships are doomed to fail, and the ones that do are likely to succeed.
Bear in mind, it’s not just quantity of relationships (though that helps), it’s also about quality. A large amount of your business probably comes from a small group of people (which is why you have to keep your customers). Keeping only good relationships means more clients with less work.
But you probably knew that…
Here’s the tricky part. To build a lot of relationships, you need to talk with a lot of people. To keep your relationships high quality, you also need to talk with a lot of people. Read more if you’re confused.
Get yourself out there. Introduce yourself to everyone.
The number of relationships you can create is directly related to the number of people you talk to. The more people you introduce yourself to, the better. This includes competitors and people you may not be targeting: you never know might turn into a valued friend or customer, so introduce yourself to everyone.
Increase your selection of contacts, and you can choose better relationships.
Have you ever been to the grocery store when they only had one piece of chicken left? Or one type of cereal? You were at the mercy of the store and its selection.
The same principal applies when you only meet 5 people. The quality of your new relationships is limited to that group.
To build a lot of beneficial relationships, you must first have a large selection of people to choose from. And, I say choose because you must decide which people to create lasting relationships with.
Only follow up with potentially good contacts.
You must limit your follow up to valuable relationships. Being a business owner, I’m certain you don’t have a lot of extra time—so it’s important you don’t follow up with everyone you meet. It’s also very important that you follow up with anyone who might someday be a client, or perhaps give you a referral.
The idea is that each time you meet with a person, you are qualifying them a bit more. If they look like they might be a good resource or potential client, keep in touch with them. If they aren’t interested in your company at all, don’t put anymore effort into them. Over time, you will create a good group of very beneficial relationships.
A relationship is a two way street.
The last point I’ll leave with you is this: each relationship should be mutually beneficial. If you help them, they’ll probably return the favor. You’ll also feel good about helping them, it’s a nice thing to do.
The golden rule lives on. If you want people to care about you and your product, care about them too. What goes around comes around.
So go and introduce yourself to some new people. And, if you liked this article, share it with some friends. Submit it to Digg or another social site; you’ll give them a (hopefully) useful article and you’ll help us get traffic to our site. Like I said, what goes around comes around : )