In the past, I didn’t do a good job of staying connected when I’d meet someone at a conference or networking event. I would bring home a stack of business cards and put them away in my desk drawer. On occasion, I’d friend the contact on social media and that was usually the extent of the connection besides a “like” or “retweet” every now and then. This approach is a huge “no-no” for anyone that’s serious about building and growing a successful business. I’ll share the exact steps I now follow in my business to connect and nurture those relationships.
We know that people buy from those they know, like and trust and if you’re in business to make money, as I suspect you are, then you’ll want to make sure that you’re building relationships not just collecting business cards. The key to building relationships is to actively listen and then follow up by asking questions. Active listening isn’t about waiting for the perfect pause in the conversation to jump in and begin telling your life story. It’s about being present and acknowledging what’s being shared.
Below are 3 steps to creating powerful connections and business partnerships.
- Connect – From the beginning of the connection make them feel special but don’t try to sell your products and services. Make eye contact, smile and use their name.
- Follow up – After the initial connection, follow up! This should be done within 24 – 48 hours of the initial connection. Pick up the phone or use your business email account if you’re going to email them. Don’t follow up using your autoresponder email account. If you promised to provide them with more information or connect them to someone else, do it! Keep your word!
- Nurture – Stay in touch with your connections on a regular basis. Don’t wait until you’re launching a new product or service to reach out to them. They’ll be more receptive to your product and service offering if you’ve added value throughout the relationship. Schedule time on your calendar to reach out and stay connected to your contacts.
Building powerful business connections is what happens after you leave a networking event or conference. It’s what you do after the initial connection that matters so don’t discount steps 2 and 3 above. Those steps are where lucrative JV partnerships are created. Who knows? You’re next ideal client may be waiting for you in steps 2 and 3.
Ask yourself the following questions to ensure you build powerful business connections and not just a stack of business cards.
- “Did I follow up with my connections in a timely manner?”
- “What can I do to add value for these connections?”
- “How can I do a better job of nurturing these relationships?”
- “Was I focused on selling or was I focused on connecting?”