As a small business owner, you likely already understand the importance of building connections and developing a loyal customer base. But precisely how do you accomplish those things? Best-selling author Jeffery Gitomer’s “Little Black Book of Connections” is a helpful resource in this regard and here are ten quick tips gleaned from Gitomer’s book.
1. Memorialize Your Goals in Writing: Gitomer suggests creating a “Connections Notebook” where you jot down your networking goals. Write down the specific people you want to connect with and how you plan to do so.
2. Attend Networking Events: Engage in community activities, your local Chamber of Commerce, service clubs like Rotary, professional groups, seminars, and workshops. Attend and participate in networking events on a regular basis.
3. Be a Good Listener: When networking, it is usually helpful to listen more than you speak. By being an active listener, you will learn more about the person and their business and be able to formulate more insightful questions and follow-up discussion.
4. Personalize the Connection: Make sure you personalize your communication. Take the time to get to know the person and their business, and reach out to them with relevant information that pertains to their needs. Above all else, commit their name to memory and spell it correctly in all written correspondence.
5. Cultivate an Effective Referral Network: Network with businesses that complement your business to maximize referral and cross-selling opportunities. Be intentional about giving more referrals than you receive.
6. Provide Value: Ensure that when you connect with someone, you make a concerted effort to add value to the relationship, be it knowledge, insight into your industry, or introductions. By providing value, it demonstrates that you are not only interested in the connection but invested in helping them succeed.
7. Stay in Touch: Following up and staying in touch is key to establishing productive, long-term relationships. Keeping the connection alive with regular communication ensures that they remain top of mind.
8. Be Authentic: Honesty, sincerity, and authenticity are critical to developing long-term relationships. People want to do business with people they like and trust.
9. Master the Social Media Landscape: Social media is a great tool to connect with people and establish relationships, but an effective social media strategy requires patience, strategic planning, and a meaningful investment of time. Invest the necessary time and resources to learn how to use these online tools to your advantage.
10. Be Patient: Networking is a long-term commitment. Developing business not happen overnight. It is best to follow an organic, long-term approach. Over time, the investment will prove to be worth the effort.