Much has been experienced and touted about how technology has disrupted, in a positive way, the flow of information between marketers and customers. The impact digital media has had on the speed and ease of making connections has revolutionized the entire process of marketing. The “old school” social interactions once thought to be critical to forming loyal and extended relationships were lost to all the pervasive hyperbole over the advantages of high-tech anything. Fast, efficient and user friendly web based social networks have demonstrated how technology can truly revolutionize communal conversations.
Data from these digital networks can be quickly gathered, evaluated and utilized to enhance the understanding of the conversations and allows for quick and free flowing interactions. However, making personal, face to face group encounters are proving to be powerful, albeit, old school methods that can contribute to long lasting relationships that enhance long term growth and stability in an organization.
While entrepreneurs typically tend to take a path of independence, there are times that long term stability and growth require a strategy of building relationships over time that is essential to marketing your business. In a sometimes too familiar proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others.”
Networks are usually local in focus and may be traditional groups like the Chamber of Commerce or Business Networks International (BNI) that conduct regular seminars and events to promote comradery and unity in a common purpose. Others are locally formed independent groups with a common thread of business purpose. The goal is to develop a personal relationship of trust among members so they will refer business to one another. Results are not immediate and take practiced effort over extended periods of time but can produce significant opportunities for business growth.
To discover networks that will work best for your organization, reach out to other individuals in industries or organizations that are the same or are those that compliment your own. It can be beneficial to participate in more than one group. Be prepared to share your knowledge and expertise. It should be an environment where giving more gets you more. Focus on your reputation for knowledge, performance and commitment to deliver on your brands promise. Invest as much time developing a referral strategy as you do to formulate your marketing strategy and utilize the social media and technology tools to reach out to new contacts and stay in touch with existing ones. Initiate and maintain referrals on social media platforms, emails and follow-up phone calls. Staying connected with existing members of the group will build an inventory of influence that can be harvested long term.
“It’s hard to say exactly what it is about face-to-face contact that makes deals happen, but whatever it is, it hasn’t yet been duplicated by technology.”- Paul Graham.