A friend of mine from college, Anson Thompson, writes a daily (yes, daily) blog on LinkedIn that always seems to contain at least one little nugget of wisdom and inspiration (click here if you want to give it a read). Earlier this week, he wrote:
“Many businesses have stopped prospecting and are now relying exclusively on ‘sissy marketing.’ Email marketing, postcards, and YouTube videos are helpful, but that is a small part of the marketing machine. You need always to be meeting new people, talking to strangers, speaking in front of groups to let people know you and your firm’s capabilities.”
As a content marketer, I believe in those “sissy marketing” tactics (especially email marketing), but they never should be used as a replacement for good, old-fashioned, face-to-face relationship building. And, as Anson suggests, I think the wonderful tools of technology have made some of us a little lazy when it comes to building—and maintaining—strong connections with others.
Relationship building—especially for entrepreneurs and startups—is not just about increasing sales, it’s about building a sustainable brand and about expanding your own personal knowledge and field of expertise. When you have real conversations with people—not words sent via email or posted with your beautiful Facebook image—you get to really know these people. You put yourself in a position of learning—absorbing everything they have to offer and investing your time to see how you might be able to help them achieve their goals.
Notice I used the word “help,” not “sell.” The problem with traditional networking, prospecting and even being a guest speaker is we tend to start the conversation from a place of selling which is why tools like email marketing and social media feel as if they could replace our real-world connections. When you take the time to help someone achieve their goals—whether that is introducing them to a new connection or recommending a new restaurant-- it shows them two fundamental things:
1. You’ve listened to them.
2. You’re interested in them.
That feeling of being heard and appreciated is tough to do via email and social media.
And here's the truth about building these relationships--it never stops happening. Even if you are wildly successful, you should never stop meeting new people, talking to strangers, and giving presentations. This is how we continue to grow and evolve as companies and as individuals.
Go Girl will soon be launching a series of “lunch and learns” with one of the topics being how to effectively build relationships IRL (in real life). Interested in joining us? Shoot me an email and I’ll be sure to keep you updated on dates/times.