As a solo-entrepreneur or small partnership team behind a start-up you need to constantly be cultivating connections through communication. It doesn’t mean pitching every person you meet, but it does mean listening to everything they say and understanding how the people you know might be of help to others and how they might be of help to you. The next person you come into contact with could be a future vendor, partner, supplier, investor, client, customer, mentor or simply a bridge to someone of value. Your dog just sniffed another dog at the park? Apologize to the owner and strike up a conversation. They could be the person that solves that lingering problem for you.
You might be thinking, “But I’m shy, I’m not a people person and I’m unpopular!” There is no valid excuse. Those are all surmountable obstacles given a bit of training, practice and encouragement. If a conversation doesn’t work out the way you hoped- move on to the next one. As you grow confident in speaking about your business you will attract people interested in helping you see it succeed. It takes time and effort, but so does everything.
So, how do we build these powerful connections in the modern era of high-speed, tech fueled communication?
3 Tips for Becoming the Connected Entrepreneur without Leaving Your Office
Join professional social networks
Such as Google+, LinkedIn and Klout. Immediately add your contacts from your email database and invite those not participating to join. Then, start grooming your direct connections for indirect, secondary relationships that might be able to contribute to your business. Ask for an introduction and suggest an informal conversation or meet-up. Do this weekly and build out exponentially.
Create a link driven content strategy
Write a blog. Run a Tumblr page. Curate a Twitter feed. Generate a Pinterest movement. There are dozens of platforms, but it is the execution that breeds success in terms of establishing new connections. Each time you choose to share something across any one of these mediums, take the time to reference where your inspiration is coming from, credit other experts, direct your audience to the websites that you love and admire… eventually your influence in driving traffic to others will help drive traffic to you. Today I retweeted a comment by someone I look up to: @seanaiken and soon after found that he was following me too. We may not be in direct contact yet, but grounds have been established for communication. (For more on Sean Aiken and his amazing mission checkout his TEDtalk video here)
Does someone do something complimentary to you or perhaps even the same thing? Do they provide a service to the same target audience that your own customers would be interested in? Does their product or service potentially enhance your own offerings? Every time you encounter a fellow entrepreneur or fresh brand you should be asking these questions. If the answers are yes, then you should investigate the possible benefits of a partnership or collaborative agreement.Good brands become great by leveraging other great brands through mutually beneficial strategies that enhance the consumer experience.
Start checking out industry related websites and contacting other executives to learn more about what they do. I recently came across an impressive new e-commerce venture called FiveFourClub while watching a favorite news program. Their service of sending hand selected, business casual clothing items to men each month seemed like a perfect match for the busy entrepreneurs that I work with. Within minutes I had contacted them directly via their website and secured a partnership for offering my clients memberships via a referral program. It generates added revenue for me while also giving my customers another piece to their personal brand building process: a professional wardrobe makeover without setting foot in a store.
3 Ways to Tell if Your Online Connecting Strategy is Working
Empowering partnerships come to you
Just recently I was looking at a friend of a friend’s profile on LinkedIn because they worked for a brand that I admire and would love to work with. Serendipitously, they noticed I had visited and contacted me because they wanted to know more about what I do. Lucky? Perhaps. However, I put myself in position to be seen. Put yourself in position to create connections.
Your traffic and audience grow
By endorsing others you are positioning yourself to attract their attention and receive their endorsement in return. With that comes the possible attention of their entire network- who may just start listening to you and inquiring about what it is you bring to the market.
Your reputation becomes more credible
It is hard to argue that popular people often speak the loudest, but what many people also fail to recognize is that popular people are also viewed as more credible. As you grow your network and more people both know and support you, you will find that your sales conversions take far less work and seemingly handle themselves. Suddenly your brand awareness turns to brand loyalty and that, my friends, is what every entrepreneur hopes to sustain.
While I appreciate you reading and absorbing, I hope you also see this as a chance to connect with me. Please comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me: @c2bseen on Twitter and let’s build some lasting bridges.
-Jeff Tomczek, Founder and Lead Strategist