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Build Connections, Not A Client List

During a recent meeting on how we can better market our company, I raised the concern that we don’t talk enough. When I say “talking,” what I really I mean is networking, but I’m hesitant to use that term because it is overused in the marketing industry and tends to come with connotations of: mixers, business cards going out left and right, and follow up calls/emails that make the networking process feel more like online dating. While there’s no harm in a good old-fashioned networking event, I think people should just talk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen our president, Robert Fisher, in action just striking up a conversation with a random bystander without the intention of bringing in business. He really is a networking machine, but he does it in such a flawless and effortless way that his connections become that much more meaningful.

networking event, long line of people
This long line of people has a higher chance of building a business card pile-up rather than a lasting connection.

This may seem daunting if you’re an introvert, but once you begin to talk, you begin to listen. And once that happens, you’re golden, because you’ve now invested time to really get to know someone  – an idea that can create highly valuable relationships, more so than standing in a group at an event, practically speed dating your way through professionals.

Connections Online and Offline

So assuming you’re taking care of networking/connecting with potential consumers online, now would be a good time to make sure that those connections are being nurtured offline as well.

Come to think of it, networking is a lot like link building. When we network, we’re trying to create links to people, whether they’re right in front of us or behind a screen. In this business, we aim to connect consumers with companies, so why shouldn’t that goal extend to our own social and networking circles? Wouldn’t it be better to focus 10 minutes on one person than 1 minute on 10 people?

What’s the Value, anyway?

As a web copywriter, I deal with making my writing natural, without overstuffing keywords and writing real content for the reader. Building a lasting connection has to be just as natural. I say to myself sometimes times that if something feels forced, then it probably isn’t right to begin with. It is the same thing when you’re trying to create a wide network of business relationships. Don’t force anything on anyone, but rather create a loyal following from those wanting to work with you because you took the time out to get to know them as a person, not necessarily as just a client. And who knows, you may become their client down the line.

I’m not bashing any networking events, I just feel that a better way to spend your time, and possibly money, is by naturally being chatty wherever you go. Growing your business can extend outside the realms of your desk and beyond those mixers you go to every week. Create opportunity anywhere to have someone remember you for the best thing possible: listening. Become relatable, trustworthy and memorable through a simple conversation  – almost an anti-networking effect where instead of selling your business or yourself, you’re engaging with another person without an ulterior motive. IMAGINE THAT!

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