So you want to start a business. You’ve got a product, a service, or offering, a business strategy, and a little bit of money behind you to back up the plan. But you’re missing one minor detail—you don’t have paying clients.
That’s where relationships come in.
Whether you’re a mergers and acquisitions consultant in New York or a poultry farmer in Tuscaloosa, your ultimate success or failure will depend on people. Here at AcceleratingCFO, we don’t think of ourselves as networkers and we certainly try not to be schmoozers. But we are very serious about building relationships.
Smarmy networkers hit up networking events, business cards clenched in both hands, when they need new sales, new clients. Then when they’re feeling flush they neglect the people they met. Successful business developers, on the other hand, are always building and nurturing relationships…especially when don’t need anything from the people who make up their circle.
There are a few simple things you can do to become one of the latter.
Make it a habit of reaching out to those around you, preferably in person. You never know where an opportunity will come from. While someone you meet may not be part of your target audience, they might know somebody else who is.
Do your research. Find communities, groups, and social networks that appeal to those in your prospective client base. Discover where they reside and start making those connections.
Attend conferences and events that pertain to your company’s niche. Seek out the relevant events (usually noted on the schedule), get business cards, and learn from your supposed “competition.” Take time to understand others’ points of view, the audiences they are leveraging, and other opportunities they are taking advantage of.
Share your content on social media, engage with your audience (both offline and online), and take note of the feedback you do (and do not) receive. Today, trust for a brand or company is largely associated with authenticity and sincerity. Be genuine and actively listen. No one likes a big mouth.
Then, when the time is right, tap into your circle for business advice and referrals. If you’ve done the hard work of genuinely connecting with them early on, you’ll never be at a loss for deals.