If you have started a business, what’s the one thing that you’re pursuing?
If you’re pursuing profit, what is going to enable your business to achieve that goal?
A lucrative business network.
That’s right. Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you, that for your business to grow and maintain sustainable revenues, you must grow and maintain a sustainable network. Why?
Simply because the adage remains true – “It’s not what you know but who you know”. With everything and everybody going online nowadays, how do you use digital media to build a lasting and lucrative business network?
Honestly, the rules aren’t all that different. The medium is new, but the principles of integrity, persistence and timing remain the same. As with personal ones, the process of building business relationships takes time, effort and authenticity.
If you are managing your own enterprise, you will have to seek out the right people to include in your network. This will be people who will buy from you, work with you or contribute a skill to your business that you may not possess. To do so, you may have to make the first move.
Make sure and understand the type of persons you’re looking to build a network with – the skills, education, services that will propel your business to profit.
Social media, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn usually provide you with enough information about the job, company or interests of a person. With LinkedIn, you can filter search based on interests, job titles or organisations, so it becomes easier to find the type of people you’re looking for. Building Connection
Just because networking has gone digital doesn’t mean the human emotional element has to be left out. Adjusting the saying a little bit, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you”!
When sending requests to connect on social media, send along an introductory message. Remember, people get requests all the time which they mindlessly accept or reject. You want to stand apart from the online noise. Include a friendly greeting, Introduce yourself, your business. You want to get your prospect warmed up so avoid any sales pitch for now.
Your focus here is to break down any protective walls the prospect may have. You want them to accept your offer to network. Therefore, keep your introductory message brief and friendly. A simple observation about their work or achievement can be included and for example, ending with “I hope we can chat sometime to learn more about your work”.
This is your opportunity to identify what is a problem they have that you can solve and vice versa. No sales pitch takes place here either.
Building genuine rapport requires genuine conversation. Browse through their pages, photos, likes, groups, interests and any published content. This gives you insight into your prospect’s lifestyle and allows you to build a profile of them. You can then use this information to identify where in your enterprise they fit. Will they be your customer? A potential supplier or investor? Can you outsource some of your operations to them based on their skills and qualifications?
As you’re doing this, keep up the online conversation frequent and flowing. Ask relevant questions about their work, solicit their advice and find out more about the problems they encounter that they’re trying to solve. This allows you to build your sales or recruitment strategy and makes it a lot easier to sell to them once you’ve built sufficient rapport.
A further adjustment to the old saying goes, “It’s not who knows you, it’s who likes you”. People associate with people they like and will contribute to the profitability of your business if and when they like you.
Building authentic rapport lowers any guard your prospect had and you’re well on your way to acquiring a long-term contact. You know their lifestyle, their struggles and most importantly, their problems. Now is the time to make your sales pitch!
The key is to not treat it like a typical sales pitch. Yes, you’re going after them with your product but it’s not just selling. You’re their problem solver. You’re marketing your business to convince them that you have a solution. You are making it known that your product is something they need to improve their lives. Describe carefully how what you have to offer alleviates their problem and what the end result looks like.
Their solution is the forefront of your sales strategy. Given that you took the time to know them and explain the benefit of your product, it’s easier for them to trust your sales pitch and ultimately buy your product. A final adjustment to the old saying, “It’ not who likes you, but it’s who trusts you”. Trust is the foundation of long-term business relationships. Every relationship requires trust
Congratulations on making that sale! But, if you’re a true entrepreneur, you know that the work hasn’t ended. It never really does. Long-term profits mean long-term communication. Whether, it is consistent conversation or checking in every couple of weeks, keep the dialogue flowing. Always keep your contact at the forefront of your strategy. You never want any prospect to feel as though you’re chasing their money and after the sale, you’ve forgotten them. This allows you to continue building more rapport which increases their liking for you and keeps the trust intact. This is how relationships are formed and business networks last.