If you want to expand your business, one of the most effective things you can do is to build even better relationships with your existing network, as well as bringing new people into your network. When you build relationships as a business, it isn’t the same as building relationships on an individual basis in your personal life, but it is not wholly dissimilar too. Obviously, you need to do more planning and research to build better brand relationships with your audience than you would if you were just looking to make friends, but you’ll still need the same skills of communication and interpersonal relations that you use to build relationships in private, which means that it isn’t as hard as many entrepreneurs think.
If you’re looking to build relationships to expand your business, here’s a brief guide to what you’ll need to do:
Look at Your Business as a Mirror
If you treat your business as if it was a mirror of your target audience, then it will be easy for you to build strong relationships via your existing networks and any new ones you choose to exploit. What do I mean by this? Your business should reflect your audience; it should look the way they like things to look, offer the services they prefer to buy and send out the kind of messages that they can get onboard with. If you cannot get your business to do that, even if it means changing your brand a bit, then you will struggle to build better relationships now and in the future, which you should always have one eye on.
Building better relationships with the people in your social networks is a lot easier when you know what they like as an individual. Luckily, there are lots of customer insight tools that make it easier than ever for you to work out exactly what any given customer is interested in and then to offer them more of that. By offering them stuff they want, it is easy for them to get familiar and comfortable with your business, which will strengthen your relationship and (hopefully) lead to more sales.
Much of our branding and relationship building might be done online at our websites or using platforms such as Facebook and Instagram in the 21st Century, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room for good old-fashioned face-to-face networking.
Social media marketing is really effective, but if you want to deepen relationships with customers and get new people interested in your company, then buying or renting an event display and attending expos. Conferences and other events where you will actually get to speak to them one-on-one in person is a great way of building trust and showing them more of what you’re about. Being visible in the real world is important, not least because it will put your company’s name on the lips of people who might not do much shopping online, which will open up new streams of revenue to you if you’re able to impress them.
Not only that, but you’ll meet other entrepreneurs in related niches – people who you could potentially team up with to cross-promote each others’ stuff and potentially expand your network.
Take Corporate Responsibility Seriously
Even if you’re only a small startup, it pays to look at your company and think of ways that you could show your responsibility. This could include using only recycled packaging or having you and your staff attend a charity event and do some work in the community. How does this work? By making you more visible in a very positive way. It will make your audience believe that you are a good honest company that they can trust, and they are more likely to visit your website or start following you on social media as a result. Then, it is up to you to ensure that you keep doing good, do what you can to get them interested, and ultimately convert them into customers.
Reply to Comments
This one is really simple, but if you take the time to carefully craft posts for your social media pages or website, and your followers take the time to comment, don’t just leave them hanging, Sure, you might not be able to reply to everyone, and not everyone will need a reply, but if you can be seen to be present, answering questions and engaging with your audience, it will solidify your relationships and improve your chances of making more sales and eventually expanding your business. If you don’t have the time, hire a social media manager to handle comments for you. The worst thing you can do is ignore your followers once you’ve managed to get them onboard.
If you want your followers to really be engaged with you, raise awareness of causes that you know they are interested in, It will give you some common ground upon which you can build solid business relationships and make more money while doing something worthwhile. Just make sure that your business ethics align with the causes you are promoting, or you could be seen as being inauthentic, which brings us to…
Perhaps, the most important thing you can do if you want to build better relationships and expand your business is to be authentic. There are so many companies who put out any old spiel in a bid to reel the customers in, and they almost always fail in the long-term because the average person can see right through them and they don’t like being manipulated into parting with their hard-earned money.
The Bottom Line
It takes work to build up a network and have your network start trusting you to the point that they feel comfortable buying from you time and time again, but if you can do all of the above, and you keep reviewing your practices/data periodically, you will succeed, and your business will thrive now and in the long-term – just you wait and see.