Developing a Business Relationship is Just Like Dating
Everyone in business is looking to build more business relationships with people who can give them more projects, contracts, work and buy products. It’s what makes the business world tick.
You already have business relationships that give you repeat business and they tell other people about you, but this is not enough to grow the business, you are looking for more.
You know when you get in front of a new customer you can normally do business with them, your problem is getting in front of them in the first instance.
Lets Go Dating
If we can reframe the problem into a situation we all know very well, this may help us understand the process better.
We have all had experience in meeting people and developing personal relationships. How did we do that?
Before we enter into a relationship we normally know what type of person we like. Body shape, hair colour, features, values, personality, similar interests, hobbies etc.
We then went to places where we might meet people. Night clubs, social events, sports events and in todays society dating sites.
Dating sites are interesting because you submit your profile and look for people with similar profiles in terms of values and interests.
If you like the person you have found you give them a wink or a like. They then see that you have winked and will check out your profile. If they like what they see you then begin to chat.
Once you get to know the person a little by chatting, you may then arrange a date and then bingo a new relationship and maybe a marriage.
Just so you know, I have been happily married for over 30 years and did my dating the traditional way. We actually met on an 18/30 holiday. The same principal though, we both went on holiday and hung out in places young people hung out at, in our case a disco. We had a chat, I told a dirty joke that made her laugh, and we got on like a house on fire. We came from similar backgrounds, had the same values, got engaged on Holiday (I know) and got married exactly on the same day we got engaged twelve months later.
In business we know who our target audience is, their sector, their job title, interests, reading habits, what they buy from us, why they buy from us etc. Or you should know this otherwise you are going to be kissing a lot of frogs and wasting a lot of time and money.
We know where they hang out – Industry networking groups, Industry Institutes, Industry associations, LinkedIn groups, Twitter and many more social networks.
The problem is we are normally too busy to hang out at networking events and lots of people who attend just sell to us. We are too busy to get involved in institutes and associations so we go for the least line of resistance and connect with people on social media thinking, everyone does it, so it must work.
It seems the whole world is connected – but no one engages.
When was the last time you connected to someone and when was the last time you engaged. I bet you connected a few days ago and very, very rarely engage. WHY?
You are connecting with people that you know match your profile, because you have checked them out. You know what they are interested in, as you have done your research, but you fail to give them a wink or like, so they don’t know you want to know them.
What is going on in your head?
I don’t know what to say, They may not like me, I may look like a fool, I don’t want to bother them, I will do it another day, I don’t know how to start the conversation?
What made you go up to that Girl or Boy and ask them for a dance? What was your driver? If you fancied them that much, you would just do it, you wouldn’t care if you made a fool of yourself, you were motivated by lust, another word for want.
Failing that you may have asked a friend to be the matchmaker. There is nothing wrong in that. We call it a referral in business.
Lets think of LinkedIn as a dating site. You have your profile and your target audience has theirs. You can find them and they can find you by using key words in advanced search. Make sure your profile looks and feels brilliant and it’s set up to attract your target audience. Make it easy for them to find you, use the correct key words.
So how do you get chatting?
Be human. Fully research their profile, their business website and find out what they are interested in.
Whatever you do next, do not sell to them, this is the last thing you want to do. How does it feel for you to receive a message that is just trying to sell you something? Infuriating isn’t it. So don’t do it, it’s not the way to build a relationship. It’s a bit like going up to a girl or boy and saying “do you fancy a quickie”. You will only get a slap. With a message you will get a DELETE.
A better way would be to give some value. For example I may do some research on their website or linkedIn profile and give them some hints and tips on how they can improve their marketing message to get improved results. This costs me nothing and they get some value. Or I may complement them on an achievement or the quality of their business, or just some feed back.
How does it make you feel when you get some feed back from an article, blog or website. It feels good doesn’t it? Keep the conversation going, be human, tell a joke or direct them to some common interest web content. Your mission is to help and support them for a while. If it begins to work, you can then invite them for a coffee or a meeting.
Any relationship takes time and effort to build. There is no quick fix and you have to invest your time or your money by asking a specialist social media marketer to do it for you. It is the only way.
Lets make it simple with some steps for you to follow
Step 1 – Create your LinkedIn profile so it becomes attractive. Make sure you show your target audience the benefits of working with you. A way to think about this is to come up with a list of things you leave them with when you have finished your work and they have paid you. This is what the customer is buying from you. The benefits.
Step 2 – Search for customers that meet your ideal customer profile. Connect with them. They will connect with you if your profile looks and feels right for them. It has to be a good fit. It’s like dating.
Step 3 – As soon as they connect with you, return a note with a complement or some other high value-giving message. Ask questions in order to get a response and engagement.
Step 4 – Keep the conversation going until you think you can ask for a quick telephone chat. Build more value during the chat. Ask questions to find out their needs and pain. Continue to support them. DO NOT SELL – But sell a meeting. Your objective is to get face to face with them. Say something like. “If I could show you a way to achieve your objectives would you have a coffee with me?
Step 5 – Have your meeting. Ask more need analysis questions and give options. Try and get them to buy from you rather than you selling to them. At the end of the day you are helping them achieve their objectives by delivering a solution to their problem. This is called consultative selling.
This example assumes you want to connect to a high flyer in a large organisation.
Step 1 – Create your profile in the same way as your LinkedIn one but you have to do it far less words.
Step 2 – Connect to the company twitter accounts you want to do business with. Create lists within your account so you can monitor them easily and without confusion of other accounts getting in the way.
Step 3 – Engage with the social media marketer. Large companies will be using their marketing departments for communications. Build your relationship with them. Communicate using direct messaging. Ask them who would be the best person to speak to with regards to your service or product. Ask for a referral or introduction. Check this person out on LinkedIn, and then follow the process above. If you get the introduction follow your sales process.
Engagement and building a relationship on trust and credibility is the key to getting more appointments with the people who can help give you work and grow your business.
Back to dating – You don’t jump into the sack with a person within 10 minutes of meeting them – you court them, get to know them, build trust and credibility and then if the fit is right BOOM. It is exactly the same in business.
The formula is:
Step 1 – Visibility – Be seen and engage with people
Step 2 – Build trust and credibility. This then leads onto
Step 3 – New business
Feel free to give me some feed back. I like it too.
Article by Bob Evans from Your Ideal Business Partner. Currently a Business Accelerator Growth Coach at Winning Pitch. Bob is working with businesses from the construction sector and creative sector. Bob is achieving this by lean leadership, strategic marketing, sales planning and then executing the plans from chairing board meetings. Bob has been a successful business growth coach from 2005 and has taken business owners from employing two people to forty. Improving turnover in excess of 300% within a single year in some cases. LinkedIn Google+