Businesses today know they have to build relationships to grow their business. They understand how important it is to build their lists and make connections. But many tend to fall short once the connections are established. They don't understand the value in those connections; or perhaps they do understand, but just don't know how to build and maintain them. They are great at making the connection, but lack the knowledge or skill to build on what they have already established. That's why it is so important to master the art of relationship building.
Here are some great tips for building and maintaining successful connections:
Maximize Your Newsletter Connections - When someone signs up for your newsletter, you're now totally on their radar. They may have found you through an article you submitted, a blog post you wrote, a social media connection; or maybe they met you at a networking event. You're important to them at that time, so they take the extra step to go to your website and sign up for your newsletter. What often happens then is... they wait. Days go by and nothing happens; not a word from you. Then days turn into a week or two and guess what, you're now totally off their radar. When they finally do receive your newsletter, they might already have found some other source for their needs and moved on. But even if they haven't moved on yet, that "connection" or reason to connect with you that inspired them to join your list may already have been lost. That is why it's so important to maintain communication with them. Once you have them on your list and signed up for your newsletter, don't stop there. We aren't suggesting you bombard them with email or a sales pitch. But instead, set up a series of maybe 7 or 8 autoresponder messages to drip to each new person on your list over a period of 2 - 3 months. Autoresponder messages that contain value and benefit. Not a sales pitch. Then, when you do approach them with the occasional sales pitch, they'll be more apt to pay attention and want to know what you are offering. We've chosen to keep our newsletter short, sweet and easy to read so we can send valuable tips and resources to our readers on a weekly basis so we can stay front and center in their minds while still providing value and benefit.
Social Media Connections - Woot! You've gotten 79 more fans on your page and 100 more Twitter followers recently. You're rocking the social media world. Or are you? Many business owners often make the mistake of relying only on the numbers. As long as they see them go up, they are content. However, especially in the social media world, the numbers don't count as much as the engagement. What you should be reviewing are the number of mentions and retweets on Twitter, and the number of shares and comments from your posts on Facebook. Are people really reading your posts, enjoying what they see, and sharing your message? That's the key... it's all about how well you engage with those you connect with. Also, remember it's a two-way street. You want to give as well as get, so don't forget to share the love by commenting on, and sharing your friend's posts as well. Not only does it give you more content, but it shows others that you are equally as interested in them as they are you.
Networking Connections - What a great event! You're on fire when you get home. You made so many connections and there were several people who genuinely expressed an interest in you and what you have to offer. It's time to start building those relationships and reel them in. You're back in your office and ready. Then, your main client calls with an urgent request. You're still on top of things and will reach out to them to follow up - right after you finish this project. And then before you know it, it's been a week, then two. Now, you're feeling too guilty to tell them how great it was to meet them and how much you enjoyed talking with them, because too much time has lapsed. Does this sound familiar? It happens to many of us, and is one of the reasons you need to have systems already in place prior to heading out to your event. Why not try something new? A day or two before the event, write out a draft of your follow-up email. This might seem a bit impersonal, but it will give you a head start so all you have to do is personalize it once you're back in the office... or heck, even back in the hotel room if you're attending a multi-day event. You may also want to invest in a bunch of note cards you can use to write short notes to some of the people you really felt a connection with; and get them in the mail right away so they'll be waiting for them when they're back in their own offices. Because you already have a plan in progress, it will be easier to follow through with your follow-up no matter what greets you when you get back home to reality! And, you'll find you're more likely to actually follow through. Make this a practice for all of your networking events.
Social media has also made it easier to connect after networking events. Yes, it would be wonderful to write that handwritten note, but even if you get home and immediately connect with them on Facebook, it's still better than if you did nothing at all. So during the event, invite everyone you connect with at the event to also connect with you on Facebook. Make it a point to say, "Let's connect!" That way, they might even beat you to the punch and connect first. To make this easy to do, make sure your social media connections are on your business cards.
Can you see the importance of connecting, and how easy it is to do just by following a few simple steps? It makes such a big difference when you do. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. You want it to be the right impression, and you want it to be a lasting one.
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