I joined a group on LinkedIn called ExpertClick. People start discussion strings on different topics and experts answer them. Today I answered a question I thought would be of interest to everyone in sales. The question was about keeping up with business relationships. Since we are all short on bandwith how do you decide which relationships to invest in since you can’t invest in everyone equally. Here is my answer.
You Have to Pick and Choose
Here are some things I have done to maximize business relationships.
1. Networking events. When I join an organization or start attending a monthly networking event I try to attend every month for 3 or 4 months so I can get to know the people and how to make the best of the event. Once I feel I have built strong enough relationships I will only attend every other month or once a quarter.
2. Stay Connected. I use Facebook and LinkedIn to stay connected. I keep some personal information on Facebook so that my business friends can get to know me better through photos and postings. I also play some of the games which gives me a reason to “poke” someone or send them something silly or pertinent. I spend about 1 hour every other evening on that.
3. Lunch. There has been a lot written about this but here is my feeling about lunch, it is your precious time, spend it with people who you want to do business with. Take it seriously and use the time wisely. Make it part of your marketing budget to eat lunch with someone you can do business with 2 to 3 times a week. Spend that time building your relationship and helping them increase business, strategize or whatever your area of expertise is. You will increase business much faster by helping someone with a business problem than by pitching them on your products and services.
4. Be straight forward with people. Ask them what they need and tell them what you need.
5. Take them Networking. If there are people you want to spend time with and can’t find the time otherwise ask them to attend a networking event with you. Drive together or take public transit together and talk on the way. If they have never been to the event before work the room and introduce them to the people they should meet.
6. Prioritize. Make lists and rank customers and prospects. Make a schedule to stay in touch based on how well they fit your ideal customer profile.
7. Let them know how to reach you. Let people know that you may not always be able to stay in touch as frequently as you would like but that if they need you they should feel free to contact you.
8. Send Messages. Send out personal email and direct mail utilizing the technology that is currently available to reduce the time it takes.
Some of these things should help and when it comes right down to it there is only so much time in the day. It is okay to say no to some relationships, especially if they are draining (in other words you may need to fire a few customers, business associates or friends). I need to be around people who energize me not drain me. So think of that when deciding which relationships to invest in.
Leave a comment below about how you reach out to connect.