4 Steps to Building Lasting Business Relationships
Over the past four years of being in business, I’ve created over 1,000 business relationships. Everything from clients, to vendors at events, to great business friends, to mentors and more! When I relaunched my business and started focusing on sponsorship consulting, I didn’t create a sales page or promote my business. I told a few business friends, who told some connections in their network, who told some connections in their network. Before I knew it, I was being offered projects of all sizes, with zero marketing! In any given week, I have between 3-10 meetings for new collaborations. This really opened my eyes to how valuable solid business relationships are and how crucial it is to attend the right events and communicate your values clearly to secure the right relationships to take your business to the next level. Here are four steps to help you go from networking to building a lasting business relationship.
1. ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS
How to find the right events
Scout the internet: Facebook events, Eventbrite, my event calendar over at FemEvolve and social media for events happening near you. Focus on events that cater to your brand’s target market (look through previous event images or the guest list on Facebook) to ensure the event will be worthwhile to attend. Look at the list of speakers/panelists, any special guests, the organizers, etc. and compile a mental or written list of who would be best to connect with. This simplifies the process of feeling like you need to connect with everyone.
When you’re there
At the event, don’t try to connect with more than three or four people. It may end up being that only one person is from your previous list. If you try to network with everyone, the conversations become rushed and it turns into a game of ,“Here’s my business card,” without making a connection.
Oh, the excuses…
It’s easy to avoid going to in-person events, especially when they’re free. “Staying in is comfier, the weather isn’t that great, I don’t think I can learn much more,” the excuses ae never-ending. What you won’t regret is going and building a lasting connection that could change the trajectory of your business. You could land a mentor, a new client, a great connection, even a business partner! Go to that event. Ditch the typical business card gimmick and be genuine and authentic in approaching others. This is also great to do if you’re hosting an upcoming event; it enables you to promote it to a targeted audience and drive more ticket sales.
2. LEVERAGE YOUR EXISTING NETWORKS
Keep an eye on who your business friends or current connections are working and partnering with. One connection closer to a potential partnership is all you need to seal the deal. I’ve been able to secure both partnerships and sponsorships with companies that knew me through someone else or that knew a friend of mine. It builds both trust and credibility because you’re linked to someone they already know and love working with. Don’t be afraid to ask your business friend or connection to help you get in touch with the right contact if they’ve established a relationship.
3. FIND THE RIGHT CONTACTS
Once you know what area you’re looking for help with - marketing, cross promotions, sponsorship, etc. Do your research! Check out the company’s website, any LinkedIn accounts that are relevant and social media accounts and posts. Don’t be afraid to call the main line of the company and ask for the direct contact info for who you’re reaching out to. For sponsorship, it can vary from press to marketing to general inquiries. Ensure you’re got the right contact info to avoid your email getting lost in cyberspace.
4. HUSTLE AND HUSTLE SOME MORE!
Once you’ve found the right contact info, put in the work to establish the connection. Conduct all your research, build out a pitch strategy by getting clear on what your brand would provide to this company and communicate it as clearly and easily as possible. Create any supporting documents such as sponsorship packages, pitch/presentation decks, graphics that will make it easier for them to understand.
Go in with all you got! If you hear yes, great! And if you hear no, refine your strategy and reach out again and to similar brands.
Connecting and maintaining a lasting relationship isn’t easy. There isn’t one formula that works for each connection. Experiment with these tips to find what works for you and you’ll be well on your way to creating solid business relationships.
photography by Natasha Hermann and Jenny Jay