In the world of business, it is very much “not what you know, but who you know.”
Whether you’re looking to secure a contract with a new client, network with fellow businesses in your area, or be seen as an industry authority by those around you; making friends in high places is nothing but a benefit.
In the modern business marketing department, your connections and influence is extremely important. It is this that helps reinforce your marketing messages, and builds lasting trust with your customer base.
There are loads of ways you can make friends and influence people within your industry. And while we can’t promise you’ll be instantly accepted into the popular gang, we can arm you with the knowledge to build meaningful connections in high places:
Identify your USP
Whatever industry you’re in, it is safe to say that someone else out there offers the same products or services as you. Even if you are lucky enough to have no direct competitors, you need to find out and highlight exactly what it is that makes you different.
You should already know your business’s USP, but if you don’t it’s probably time you found out.
When your customers are torn between buying from you or a competitor, it is this that they will look for. What are you offering that no one else is? Why should they part with their money, and trust you with delivering on your promises?
The same goes for building relationships with industry professionals and prospects. By shouting about what makes you different, you’re much more likely to stick in people’s minds. How else can you gain the kind of industry influence and authority you’re looking for, if you just blend into the background?
Deliver something valuable
One of the best ways to build your influence and make connections in all the right places is to deliver something of value.
Going above and beyond what customers and peers expect, is a great way to make meaningful contacts. Whether you produce a range of informative e-books and white papers – you can see our range of marketing white papers here – hold seminars or networking events, or just create a stellar range of products; you can organically attract attention from the wider community.
Delivering something people didn’t expect is a great way to make meaningful business contacts that are mutually beneficial.
Help out in the local community
In the spirit of going above and beyond to build connections and improve your business’s brand perception, corporate social responsibility is something all companies should make time for.
Helping out at a local fundraising event, offering work placements to local students, and even holding our own charity events are just three of the ways we give back to our local community. These are simple, effective ways that we build connections with fellow businesses in our local area; simple ways that you can repeat within your business.
Make your business about something bigger than just the products you offer. Sure, a lot of your reputation will stem from the quality of your products and the level of service clients receive; but giving back in this way is a great way to build your database, grow your influence, and make powerful business connections.
Personalise your approach
Calling your customers, clients, and contacts by name is perhaps the most powerful marketing tool in your mix.
We have always said that personalization is one of the secrets to email marketing success; but you should make every marketing method, business email, and phone call personal. Calling someone by their first name and using the word ‘you’ gives your content an added edge, making it one of the most powerful words in marketing.
When networking and building connections, make sure you are friendly, approachable, and personal:
- Always use the person’s first name (or salutation and surname, depending on how you were introduced) in all forms of correspondence
- Tailor any email or direct mail shots that you send to a person’s specific needs and wants
- Make sure that you’re always a positive representation of your brand
- Maintain relationships
- Perhaps the most important step in building business contacts knows how to maintain them. Checking in with people you met at a local networking event, worked with on a training course, or did business with is a great way to build a positive influence.
In 2013, there are so many ways you can maintain these relationships. Not only do you have mobile phones and mobile emails; but there is also social media. This is a hugely powerful way to keep in contact with industry connections, as well as network with people on your prospects list.
In the world of business, you are only as good as your book of contacts. Having the right connections, in the right place can prove extremely useful and really help drive your company forwards.
What ways have you found to build new business connections? What outcomes have you experienced from a new contact?