How much time do you spend getting to know people? Do you see it as a waste of time or do you see the value that is gained from getting to know someone?
Whether you have met someone in real life, over the phone or online, the relationship really comes to life when you have shared values, interests, goals and/or experience. But to find out what your common denominators are, you need to have a conversation rather than make assumptions.
Throughout my career, relationship building has played an important part in my business strategy. Whether it be internal or external customers, creating a connection with someone has meant I have often been able to achieve the results/outcomes desired.
When I first left university, my first ‘proper’ job was working at a bank and I quickly realised the importance of building relationships to meet the targets were set in terms of lead generation.
Yes, I was genuinely interested in the customers I spoke to, but finding out more about them meant I could make suggestions/solutions to them about their accounts to save them money.
From getting to know people and building relationships, it also meant I was building the know, like, trust factors.
This continued within the different roles I held, relationship building played a key role in getting results, gaining opportunities, managing people, and negotiating.
Fast forward to now and running my own business and relationships have played a vital role in the growth of my business.
All too often I receive referrals for PR opportunities and/or client work. This comes from taking the time to get to know people as well as being the real me! People feel they know me because of the content I share and the conversations I have.
We often hear about networking but if you’re anything like me, when I hear the word ‘networking’, I immediately think of a room full of strangers and a 60-second pitch.
As a shy, introvert, I know on the rare occasions when I have attended a networking event, more often than not, I tend to stay in my shell. I can’t help it, I prefer 1:1 conversations and small groups. If you’re an introvert like me, you can still build relationships at a networking event but if you’re anything like me, you will find yourself naturally drawn to fellow introverts…
Yes, you can build relationships with people at networking events but you can also build relationships with people in other places. Social media is a great example.
I know social media often receives a bad reputation but for my business it has played an important role, not only for building my brand and attracting leads but especially because of the relationships I have made. Connections have become friends.
Prior to launching my business, I had an experience of using social media for keeping in touch with people and on a platform like LinkedIn, I would use it for headhunting potential employees.
Around 2017/18, I started using LinkedIn in different way because I needed to build brand awareness and connect with potential clients and as a result of my approach, I built strong relationships with people.
My top tips
1. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
I spent 10 years working in the corporate world and in that environment, you get used to communicating in a certain way, especially if you’re working in an industry that is regulated such as financial services. This means you have to always think about what you say when you communicate.
When it comes to running your own business, sharing your brand story, sharing your values and your personality will attract people to you and this is important in building relationships.
2. Extend your network.
Don’t rely on speaking to only those you know. Take your time to nurture relationships with people outside from those you immediately know.
A good example of this would be to join in with conversations from people who you aren’t a 1st connection with you on LinkedIn. If a post resonates with you, give your perspective, share your expertise and you could always continue the conversation in a direct message.
3. Relationship building is two-way.
It’s easy to get to know people and to listen to them, absorb the information and give nothing in return.
Think about what you can give back, do you have a tip you could share, could you introduce them to someone who might be interested in what they do.
It’s all about give and take.
4. Follow them on social media.
If you use more than one social media platform, connect/follow on the other platforms too. Be supportive, like their content, and let them know you enjoy their content but be genuine, don’t say it for the sake of it.
5. Check-in on people.
If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, don’t be afraid to drop them a quick message to see how they are. They will appreciate the gesture provided you’re not getting in touch with a sales pitch.
Building relationships is invaluable to your career progression / business, don’t underestimate the power of it.
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If you would like to learn more, get in touch to find out how I can help you.