Building Quality Relationships

March 17, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

 networking

If you could describe the quality relationships you have in your personal life you may use the words such as trust, respect, honesty, unselfishness.

The same words can be used to describe the relationships in your business life and networking has grown over the years to be one of the most powerful ways to help develop quality relationships. Whilst networking may require little or none of your marketing budget it should be part of your small business marketing plan as it does take planning as well as your time and effort to get it right.

Before you undertake any networking for your small business you may like to consider the following:

Have a Plan
As with all marketing tactics, you need to decide what you want to achieve from your networking. Your networking plan should answer the following questions:

  • Which associations or networking groups are those that you should join and are best suited to your business needs? This includes online and offline.
  • How many associations is it realistic for you to be a part of?
  • Who are the types of people you want to meet and build relationships with?
  • Once a member, what can you do to actively participate in the association and make yourself known?
  • What can you do for others involved in the association?
  • How many quality relationships will you need to make to build your business in the future?
  • How many networking meetings or functions can you realistically attend per month, per quarter or per year?
  • How much time will you allocate to online communities?
  • What online communities will you join?

Find the Right Associations and Communities
It is important that you choose networking associations and communities that are best suited to your particular industry and will support your future business development objectives. Ring your trade association and ask them about networking groups available for your industry. Talk to customers and people in related industries and ask what associations they are members of.

Have a Long Term Strategy
Networking does not provide an immediate boost to sales. Attending a few meetings and swapping business cards will not automatically lead to greater profits for your business. The benefits of networking occur over time, as you get to know people and start building long term relationships. Networking is not just about the colleagues or peers you initially meet. It is also about the people you meet that tell others about you and refer business on.

Be Prepared
When you attend association or group meetings think about the questions you can ask other people to engage them in a conversation. Asking questions about their business and how you can help them is the best way to get them to remember you. Most people are comfortable talking about themselves and their business. Listen to what they have to say and learn from the information they provide.

Seek Quality Not Quantity
With networking you must be selective about your efforts and focus on where you can start building long term relationships with the people you meet or converse with. It is no use handing out 20 of your business cards to people who you haven’t properly spoken to and who will not remember you.

Get Involved
A great way to get involved with an association or trade show is to offer your services as a guest speaker. Organisers are usually looking for a variety of guest speakers who are interesting and can provide relevant and helpful information to their members or attendees. With a little work and creativity you should be able to come up with a presentation that is informative, educational, entertaining and one that people will remember you and your business by.

Follow Up
It is important that once you make contact with someone that you do not let the relationship lapse. Have a plan in place of how you are going to follow up the contacts that you have made.

Talk to them about how you can help to refer business to them i.e. the sort of customers they are looking for. If you refer someone to them, make sure you let them know who you are referring and why you referred them.

How do you build quality relationships?
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Susan

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