After reading this post from Jason Falls – about the ROI of Social Media – I have been thinking a lot about a quote from Jeffrey Gitomer:
“Most people have powerful connections. Very few people have harnessed the power of their connections.”
“Because of”- Not “With”
It occurs to me that there is a lot more to a Strategic Alliance than simply promoting yourself. In fact, Gitomer gives pages and pages of reasons to do it in his Little Black Book of Connections. I would like to suggest that the strongest reason for creating strategic alliances is that you can build your business because of your them, rather than with your strategic alliances.
Just as with all of your other promotional efforts, networking is a way to establish yourself as an authority – the “go-to-person” in your field. Establishing your credibility and creating an emotional bank account with the people that you meet are important tools for building your business, not on the backs of those that you meet, but through their own word of mouth.
Put the Strategic Alliance to Work
The real benefits of creating a network of powerful friends and an alliance of business-people are many. Here are just a few:
- To make an impression – Meeting new people and asking them about what they do is a great way to make an impression. This is also the time to ask them about what you might be able to do to help them, not your company, you. For free.
- To get an audience – Attending meetings, after-hours events, and lunch-and-learn events can be a great way to meet new people. You will also discover that these events are nearly always looking for speakers or presenters. Volunteer to speak or give a presentation. You will have the opportunity to put a face with your business. You can do similar things online through guest-posting and forum discussions.
- To get to the decision-makers – As in the above example, speaking at an event will often get you noticed by the very people that make decisions about your products and services. They may have questions. Networking gives you the opportunity to answer those questions in a safe, non-selling environment. Again, the online forum is a good facsimile.
- To build business with your existing clients – It is easier to build your business with your existing clients than to get new ones. It is easier to build your business with your existing clients if they know you and if they know other people that know you. Word of mouth is one of (if not the) the most powerful methods of advertising. Becoming known in your industry is your primary goal when networking. When you are known, you will get business.
- To expand within your industry – There comes a time for every business when it is ready to grow and expand, into new fields or markets. The best way to do this is through networking. Your strategic partners can give you advice and direction, introducing you to new clients and markets. Then it’s time to make an impression again.
What do you use networking for? Which events or functions do you attend in order to interact with new people? Do you do more networking online or off? Why?
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