If you haven’t noticed, the world has changed a bit. Technology and the Internet have opened wide the doors of communication, and broken down boundaries between people. Old marketing and sales methodologies are making way for a totally new way of doing business.
The New Way of Business
This new way of doing business is all about relationship-building and open communication.
Businesses have to get away from the “competition” mentality and open their arms to a partnership mentality to make it in this new world.
Even successful customer-service can be understood as relationship-building with customers. Social media has given customers direct access to you, and a very loud voice that can shout your praises… or your faults.
I’m not saying that hard work doesn’t affect your success. And luck — being in the right place at the right time — certainly affects it as well. But nothing affects your business more than relationship. (Tweet that!)
Are You Stuck in a Rut… or Stuck in the Past?
Are you still going to networking events and coming home with a stack of cards that get your business nowhere? Are you still relying on snail-mail flyers to get the word out about your business? If you answered yes to either one of those questions, you may want to reconsider how you are reaching out to your customers and your business contacts.
In this brave new business world, the barriers to communication have been broken down. Make sure you have a great website that really represents your business, shows off your expertise and is easy to find using a search engine, rather than relying solely on handing out easily-misplaced business cards. Use email newsletters to reach out to customers who have given you permission to contact them, rather than invading strangers’ postal mailboxes. Make yourself useful on social media — answer questions that fall within your realm of authority and respond to customer service issues with grace.
Offline relationships are still valuable, of course, but rather than aiming for quantity, aim for quality. One of the great things about being a small business is that you can be more intimate with your customers and partners. Take advantage of this and get one-on-one with people. Talk directly with those who can help you, and those you can help. Get to know customers and partners as individuals. Have a lunch date with them, or send them a personal email. Find out what they need, and if you can’t provide that, connect them with someone who can. Send handwritten thank-you cards often!
All of this advice boils down to two words: build relationships.
Giving Business Away to Attract Business
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I refer away just as much business as I take in. You read that right. I refer business away. That might sound counter-intuitive, but stay with me, here. If I can’t serve a client better than everyone or every business I know, I believe it is my duty to connect them with the person or business who can serve them the best.
You know what that has gained me? Genuine, long-lasting and beneficial relationships. Relationships with clients and with other businesses. Those relationships drive more business for me than any marketing or mass-networking I do.
Above hard work, and far, far above good luck, relationships are the key to business success in this new technology-driven world. How are you building relationships with your customers and business partners? Share in the comments below or tweet us at @horizonpeak.
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