Relationship marketing is a way of building your business by focusing on relationships first, and sales second. When it works perfectly (which it rarely does) relationship marketing removes the need to sell. You simply build an audience that wants what you have to offer, then show them what you have to offer.
Relationship marketing is all about building strong networks, nurturing your relationships with those in your network and then letting them know what you can do for them. If you love people but hate selling, relationship marketing is for you. There are ten simple concepts that will make it easier.
1. Make an Effort
Networking shouldn’t be something that just happens. Get organized and plan a schedule of attending events or other opportunities to network, along with following up and nurturing your new relationships. Networking online? You still need a plan and a schedule. Follow up with your online contacts regularly, by email, via Facebook messenger, by commenting on their blogs or collaborating in other ways.
2. Face to Face Is Better than Virtual
The internet makes it easy to meet people and stay in touch, but face-to-face contact in person is still the best. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to network offline and interact in the real world with your contacts. Check out MeetUp.com for networking events in your area.
3. Know What You Bring to the Table
Before you start building those relationships, identify the skills, experience, expertise and other value that you bring to the interaction. Take a good look at your resources and skill set to determine what you can do for others. Approach the new people you meet with confidence and let this value show. Be committed to following through on whatever you promise. Don’t be afraid to help a few people for free. It will often result in recommendations and testimonials.
4. Get into Conversations
When you’re at an event networking to build your list of contacts, it’s better to meet fewer people but become more engaged with them than to meet many people who you only have a chance to say “hello” to. Try to get into a real conversation with someone even if it means you’ll connect with fewer people. This goes for online networking too. It’s better to have a hundred followers who love everything you do than a thousand who don’t even know what you do. Quality trumps quantity. Every time.
5. Go for a Win-Win
Never form relationships based only on what others can do for you. If you make each relationship mutually rewarding so that it’s beneficial for everyone, it will be much stronger. The other party will be more likely to do things for you when they’re also benefiting from knowing you. This can be as simple as sharing someone’s content on social media or linking to a useful post on their blog.
6. Stay in Touch
A very important part of cultivating network relationships is staying in touch with those you meet. Whether you interact casually on social media or actually write formal follow-up letters, it’s important to stay on the radar of the people you meet. It’s fine to ask people in your network to join your email list, if they’d be interested in what you have to offer. Email communication is a great way to build relationships, and when you do have something to sell, you can mention it in your weekly or monthly email, with just a short description of its benefits. If you’ve built a targeted audience, they’ll be no need for a hard sell.
7. Follow Up with an Offer
For your first follow-up with new contacts, be proactive and offer to do something for them. Offer some kind of help they need that you can provide in just a few minutes. It could be a case of sending them a link to something you discussed, or asking them if there’s anything they’re promoting that you can share with your followers or subscribers. This is a great reason to follow up and keep in touch, and also boosts your relationship with goodwill. Your new contact will immediately see the value you have to offer.Don't like selling? Simply build strong relationships with people who are likely to love, want and need your stuff. Then show them your stuff. Click To Tweet
8. Keep Records
Keep a file on your most important contacts and try to be aware of as much as you can about them. Note personal information such as their likes and dislikes as well as pertinent business information. This data can clue you in to their needs and ways you can make connections with them.
9. Maintain Professionalism
Not all your contacts are your friends. Keep the appropriate level of professionalism. Always correspond with them politely and professionally. When networking on social media, it’s fine to be real and authentic, but try and keep any aspect of your private life that could make you look unprofessional off the internet.
10. Pay Attention
Through each contact with your network, pay attention and listen closely. You need to recognize if your contact with the person is intrusive and whether or not it’s valuable to them. This is how you build a strong long-term relationship.
Relationship marketing is about giving value. Don’t make it all about what you need from them. If your contacts get great things by knowing you, they’ll be on the lookout for ways they can reciprocate and help you too.
Need more help building relationships? Take a look at The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide To Networking.