By Karen Gregory, HRSS President
Recently I was discussing with a client the possible reasons that his business has not been moving forward. He is a very knowledgeable man, an expert in his field, but he just can’t seem to bring clients in to his business. He’s frustrated and discouraged, of course. And he’s quickly running out of money to sustain the business.
A big part of our discussion had to do with being task-oriented vs. relationship oriented. He is very task oriented, likes learning, is good at getting the job done, and knows his craft. So why is he not bringing in business?
In this case, although he’s an expert and has a deep understanding of his profession, he is not spending the time required to build relationships. He spends much of his time doing research, attending training, and, well…there’s no other way to say it…too much time hanging out at his office…by himself. He’s very introverted and task focused. Relationship building, admittedly, is not his strength. And this is going to prove critical to his survival as a small business, particularly because he is in start up mode.
I explained to him, you can know everything there is to know about your industry, however if no one else knows about you and your knowledge, then you’ve got nothing. Furthermore, customers looking to procure services are looking to do business with those they KNOW, LIKE, and TRUSTfirst and then secondarily, with someone who has the knowledge. There’s lots of companies out there with the expertise who can provide services, but generally speaking, the deal maker is the provider the client knows, likes and trusts over someone who just has the expertise. And getting the client to the point where they know, like and trust takes time.
Relationship building doesn’t happen over night. But understand this…Relationships are key to growing a business. Here are few tips for reaching out and building those relationships. And yes, introverts can do this too. It just may take a bit more practice.
Tip #1: Make the most of your networking. Be strategic about the events you attend and who and how many people you plan to introduce yourself to. Set a goal. Have your business cards ready. And make it happen. No excuses.
Tip #2: Reach out to anyone and everyone you know to tell them about what you’re doing with your business. Family members, church members, previous coworkers, neighbors…anyone and everyone. And then ask for referrals. And don’t feel bad asking for referrals. It’s business. Do you want to grow or not?
Tip #3: Use social media to be social. Brand recognition can go a long way. Build relationships over the internet. There’s a big, big world of opportunity out there. Some of my biggest projects have come from meeting people on LinkedIn, for example. And this is a great strategy for those who are much more introverted. You don’t have to go anywhere, but you DO have to develop a social media marketing plan and you DO have to be social…even from behind your desk.
Try these 3 tips over the course of 3 months. Hold yourself accountable. Make it a point to talk about what you do and the services your company provides, but do it in a natural, more social manner. Care about people. Show you’re passionate about what you do and how you help others. Forget the mechanics and technical aspect. Focus on building relationships…and lots of them. The more people you know, the more the word gets out. Stop making excuses and just do it. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.
We’d love to hear how you best build professional relationships.