I have recently reconnected with some people who due to life happening, we had lot touch. It’s funny, how quickly and easily we fell back into our old patterns and behaviors. It was as if the time that had passed has only been a few weeks rather than a few (or in one case several) years. The ease of which we were able to reconnect and reestablish our personal relationships started me thinking, could this be true for business relationships as well and if so, how could a business owner (mainly, I) go about doing this?
Let’s be honest, going to networking meetings and picking up business cards is a great way to get the word out about what you are doing, but it is what is done afterward that makes the difference. Relationships and the quality of your relationships can make a huge difference in your business. Think of it this way, you can have a lot of capital and spend a lot of money on your marketing but if people don’t know you or aren’t comfortable being around you, they will be less likely to do business with you or refer others to your business. As a small business, it is the continued support of those around you that keep your business operating because you are most likely focused on a smaller demographic area. While for some, this may mean a “take what you have” approach, I believe a “work with what you have” approach will be more beneficial and help you grow your business more successfully over time, because as you may remember, time is our most valuable asset.
Working With What You Have
So, how do you “work with what you have?” Let’s start simple, with those business cards you collected. Reach out to those individuals and follow up with them. Do some research, look up their business online to see what you can learn about them and what they do so when you do reach out, you are knowledgeable about their business and ask to meet to learn more. Business owners like to talk about what they do and why they do it. Once you have a better understanding of their business, the work really begins, building that relationship. You see, being a business owner is only one aspect of their lives and while it may be a large aspect, there are others that are just as meaningful, if not more so. Getting to know people on a personal level heightens your awareness of that individual and brings them closer to the forefront of your mind.
A quick example, I had someone I know personally reach out and ask if I knew a spiritual medium. Not a request that many would receive, I am sure, but the answer was yes, I know several, two of which I have a personal relationship with. Because of the personal relationship I have with the two, they were the first to come to my mind. Additionally, because of the personal relationship with these mediums, I knew that although both would provide my friend with the services she was looking for, they are different not only in approach but in personal interaction as well. From this, I was able to refer her to both and explain how the experience may differ between the two. While I know several spiritual mediums, it was the personal relationship formed that brought my mind to those two and from that, I was able to give my friend a recommendation that I feel good about and know that whomever she chooses, she will get what she is looking for.
But following up from business cards is only a part of building the relationship because as we are all aware, the Internet is where we spend most of our time. From watching cat videos to getting our news and weather, we are so acclimated to having the Internet at our fingertips, we feel lost without it. And understandably so, it’s where most of us get our information but it is also where a lot of us communicate with friends and family. We create digital communities of people we have personal relationships with and intermixed with these communities, we are inundated with ads and promotions. Often, we glance over them enough to recognize what they are, like flipping pages in a magazine, without stopping to look at what the ad is trying to sell us. Yes, there are some tricks to get people to stop and look (video has a huge return on this) but how do you turn this impression into a follow and a follow into a sale and most importantly, continued sales? By building the relationship.
Building Digital Relationships
Building a relationship online is different than in person, but the core aspect, getting to know one another, remains key. When we’re online personally, we share bits of our days, thoughts that run through our minds, quotes, graphics and memes that we find a personal connection with – we share information about ourselves and our lives with others and they in turn do the same. So, how can a business owner take one platform, the Internet, that is used for two primary reasons, information and communication with friends and family and make it work for them? The answer is quite simple, but many find it difficult to execute, do both.
I read an article a while ago explaining why computer sciences need humanities and while I will spare you the details, it states that in a mind digitally aware, we focus more on capability over privacy, what “could” be done rather than what “should” be done. For business owners, the equates to what “can” I share over what “could” I share, and the result is continued posting about what the business does or giving up altogether, blaming the algorithm. Neither of these two are working for you, they do not build a relationship with your potential clients. So then, the question to ask yourself is what could you share?
For us, that is sharing events in Chambersburg and the surrounding areas because we love living and working in this area. We love the people in this area and are genuinely interested in what is happening here. We especially love to share other small businesses and their successes. We want to support them in their endeavors and although that may mean we cannot always monetarily support them or attending their events, so we support them by sharing their information with others. In this, we are building relationships with other small business owners, and Chambersburg and surrounding areas, and with our own community of supporters who like and follow our pages and website. That’s a lot of relationships being built, but there’s more to it, we also need to tell others about what we do, both in the life of a business owner but also in our goods and services.
Find What You Like and Use It
Ask yourself how you could tell others about your business and continue to build on those relationships you have built. You can share pictures and videos directing people to purchase your goods or services but what could you do? For us, we write a weekly blog that both shares in our experiences and highlights our services. As the owner and a writer, this platform works well for me. Each week as I am operating my business, I am contemplating on the next blog. I think about the relationships I have and the issues they have and how I may be able to help. Often for me, narrowing down on the topic is difficult because what they are suffering from is the overall problem many of us face, we don’t know what the hell we are doing! We have this thing that we love, and we want above all else to keep it alive and we’re figuring it out as we go. It’s scary. But it isn’t always. Think about why you started this crazy journey and think about all the things you love about what you are doing and share it! Be serious, be funny, it doesn’t matter but above all else, be real.
Relationships take time to form and are never one sided. It takes two, time, and work but the result may be a separation of nearly twenty years, and it feels as if no time has passed at all. It may be that you and your business are the first to come to someone’s mind when asked, “do you know someone who…” Or it may even be that person who you have built that relationship with doing business with you. We may never know where a relationship will lead us, but it won’t start until we make the first move. First impressions count but it’s what we do afterwards that matters.
If you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or just not sure how to make your social media work for you, reach out to us for a free consultation. We will meet with you and discuss the front end of your page, what your audience sees and give you recommendations on how to maximize your time and begin to build those relationships with your audience. And for more defined and detailed assistance with building your relationships online and speaking to your audience, we offer social media coaching where we will discuss the backend of your page – who, where, and when is your audience online and what they like and do not like. Each session includes a written report of what was covered and how you can use that information to maximize your posting and build those relationships.
For more helpful tips and insight into the world of a small business owner and all the highs and lows and bumps along the way, be sure to check back every Friday when we’ll discuss another topic relating to you and what you are working through as a small business owner and things I have learned along the way that may help.