“GREAT THINGS ARE NEVER DONE BY ONE PERSON. THEY ARE DONE BY A TEAM.” -Steve Jobs
“NO” (Spoken with tone and force…then pause) ‘Truer words were never spoken” -My grandfather - all the time
This past year has been full of lessons about building my own brand. I took some time - scratch that – I took a lot of time, to focus on my business and my brand, and I discovered that it is so hard to look at yourself, and your business, objectively without muddling it all up. Clarifying your message, writing your message, sharing your message, selling your product, building your business – it all takes time, energy, and, in some cases, blood, sweat and tears. We struggle every day to get it all done, and we sometimes forget the most important part of lifealotof time, to focus on my business and my brand, and I discovered that it is so hard to look at yourself, and your business, objectively without muddling it all up. Clarifying your message, writing your message, sharing your message, selling your product, building your business – it all takes time, energy, and, in some cases, blood, sweat
Don't get so caught up in your business and your products that you forget to build relationships. Building relationships with your customers, your vendors, your employees, and [gasp!] your competitors is critical! Why? Because time is limited. You can only get a few things done in a day, and you only have so much time to build relationships.
Of course, you need to focus on your personal relationships. But think about building friendships with other businesses, too!
Building your business network is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, gain new customers, and share your brand with others. A strong business network gives you advantages that can really build your brand.
With that said, I want to share four reasons why building business relationships is awesome:
1. IT EXPANDS YOUR KNOWLEDGE:
Learn from the success of others. Be open to advice, and take the opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of other businesses. We should always be learning! New products, new markets, new tools, new trends, new processes. How to brand, how to be more productive - having a network of people to reach out to is invaluable and a major TIME saver. Need to find a new way to post content, update your social media, or save time doing your marketing? Learn about a new tool or process for your craft? Or, perhaps, you have an art show in Raleigh and want a personal recommendation on the best places to eat! Contact your network and find out!
2. YOU GAIN REFERRALS (TRIBE-BUILDING):
Referrals are probably the most obvious benefit of building relationships and the reason most business owners decide to join networking groups in the first place. Not to mention that the referrals you get through networking are usually high quality, and, most of the time, are even pre-qualified for you. If your customers are sharing your products or services, then their tribe will most likely become your tribe...people who are alike tend to hang with people who are like them. Referrals are a powerful networking tool and can be used in so many sweet ways. Have you ever thought of offering a small advantage to your customers for sharing your work or services?
3. IT PROVIDES CONNECTIONS:
“It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.” This quote is so true. The problem is, these days not many people really know other people. We’re all part of social networks online, but we’re failing to really build personal relationships. If you want to make
networking and business relationships work, you have to invest in real people.
My mom, who I call a “social networking guru,” started a non-profit in Northern Michigan years ago by connecting small businesses with each other. She grew a small-town network into a network of over 4,000 small businesses simply by reaching out to them personally and connecting them on social media.
There is power in connections, and there is power in casting what my mom calls a “social net.” Every time you put an advertisement up, you are trying to reach a potential consumer. My mom says, "It’s like casting a net in the sea, you might get twelve bass and one turtle. One of the twelve bass might need what you’re selling, another bass might need some help you can provide and contact you right away. If you send a note or Christmas card, or simply reach out to the other bass, just to say hello, you might gain another nine bass. Mr. Turtle might not need what you have right now, but he’ll share the net with his family. Sometimes, a simple reminder that they are on your team is all they will need to call on you later.” So don't be afraid to cast your social net.
4. IT RESULTS IN FRIENDSHIPS:
Networking is, essentially, building relationships, but try not to think about building business networks in terms of "Building Profit for Your Business." Nothing is harder than trying to build a network without real, authentic "I will be here if you need me" kinds of friendships. I’m the kind of person who really wants to know my clients and my business partners. I send gift baskets when my clients have a tragedy in the family, or cards when they just need a hello. I have found that, if you invest in people with real, honest integrity, they will love and appreciate you, and share your business when the time is right. A good network is really just a large circle of friends - a two-way street of helpful relationships that, with time, patience, and a little love, eventually goes both ways.
Tracy Lawrence sings: You find out who your friends are...Somebody's gonna drop everything Run out and crank up their car Hit the gas get there fast Never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far.' They just show on up with their big old heart You find out who your friends are
The true definition of a friend is someone who will help you move without notice and with no expectation of getting something out of the deal. (Speaking of which, I’m moving on the 6th of December if anyone wants to help! ;)) Sometimes that kind of friendship is exactly what a business relationship needs to grow and develop. Helping out and sharing your contacts is just part of the deal. Giving a friend a boost in traffic, reputation or sales, taking part in your community and conversation, connecting people to other people or sharing with others that you think they’re awesome! Sometimes even helping out when you see a copy mistake or error. Make friends!
Having someone you can call, whether it’s family, your mom (Love you mom!), or a business associate - relationships are amazing things! I know how it feels to have a million things to do and no time to do it all. I’m raising two toddlers, loving my husband (HA!), moving, rebranding my own company (huge), plus finishing a couple of jobs and starting a few new ones. With a month until Christmas, New Years and taxes, I have no time to spare. So - I get it. Life is crazy, but doing it all alone is daunting. Please remember to build your relationships this coming year - because nothing is better than having someone on your side. I would love to become a part of your business team. Connect with me. (I prefer phone calls. ;))