The buzzword these days is "relationship" marketing. Just what is it? And why is it important? Relationship marketing is so much more than "networking. It's gathering support of your friends, peers, and business contacts. It's developing strong, lasting, unique relationships with your most valuable asset, your customer. It's what keeps people "coming back for more." It's an excellent way to shorten the traditional routes of building trust, create opportunities, increase valuable contacts, to achieve success and excel in business.
Every opportunity you have to meet new people is an opportunity to grow your business! If you are willing to invest your time, networking is a process, and the payoffs are almost immeasurable. It's not realistic to expect instant success. It takes time. You can plan your networking opportunities to shorten the time it takes to build those relationships.
What do you want and need to accomplish? Do you want to develop lifelong individual customers, land large accounts, or make an impact in your community? You will accomplish all three by getting involved in your local civic organizations, Chambers of Commerce, Business Associations, Non-Profit organizations, etc. One of the best ways to get to know people "up close and personal" is to volunteer to serve on a committee; give your time and talent to a cause. People want to do business with people who have similar interests and values.
Whom do you need to meet to accomplish your goals? And where do you meet them? Angel Cicerone, Associate Editor of the South Florida Business Journal says, "If you're going fishing, go where the fish are." Focus your efforts by being in the right place at the right time. It's not just who you meet, but how and where you meet them. Meeting people in the "right places" adds credibility to that meeting. That's not to say that striking up a conversation in the supermarket has no value. It does. It's just that if you want to develop first class contacts, you must fly first class.
If you are flying first class, those sitting in the same section will view you as a peer. Of course, there's no guarantee you'll make those great contacts. However, if you don't fly first class, you'll never know. It may be worth the investment. The same people flying first class can also be found at those events, fundraisers and conferences in which you participate. Go where the people you wish to network with will be!
Are you willing to invest the time it takes to achieve your goals? How much time is enough? Begin with the end in mind. The key to relationship marketing's success is to know what it is you want to accomplish. To start networking, you have to set your foot in the door.
Excerpted from The PMS Principles – Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business
c 2004 – Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is also the Founder ?www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-ki) – an Internet organization that "Helps Women Do Business on the WEB." She can be reached at www.HeidiRichards.com.