Recently I got a call from one of those super-popular people. You know the type: thousands of ‘followers’, stacks of ‘connections’ and squillions of ‘friends’. Boy did I feel special. Not for long. Things unravelled pretty quickly in our conversation when it became clear that while he knew my name and phone number that was the extent of his market intelligence. Sadly, he even got it wrong when recounting where we’d met.
I’m all for building networks and I have encourage business owners all the time to get out there and start forming lots of connections, but honestly what’s the point if you can’t even follow the basics of building business relationships?
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy what LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can do for networking, but I also truly love building business relationships by engaging with people face to face and having meaningful conversations.
You have to remember that it is not a competition in who can have the most followers, fans, connections or business partners. You have to have as many as you can handle and keep meaningful relationships with. The relationships which make the other person feel special, feel wanted and feel useful. Otherwise you really have nothing but a name.
In today’s society it is easy to get caught up in the noise of social media and networking events and become the same as everyone else, “focused on themselves.” In saying that however it is not hard to stand out from the crowd by being different and moving the focus of you and onto them. The real magic begins in the days, weeks and months after the initial contact or event. This is where you either become like everyone else, too busy to be bothered, or you stand out and make the effort to keep the relationship going and moving forward to benefit all involved.
Small business relationships are as useful and powerful as what you make them out to be. Quite often I will hear people complain about how useless networking events are, how useless social media is, that they never get anything from it and it is a waste of time. These are the same people who never follow up, never take responsibility and for some reason just believe that it should all happen with no effort.
Unfortunately no it does not work as such, having great small business relationships is often the turning point for a small business, it allows great growth and it can bring in a lot more business without having to spend large marketing dollars. Ask yourself do you think it might be worth it?