Category Archives: Relationship Marketing

Networking Skills – How to Be the Most Valuable Person in the Room

Relationship marketing and networkingOften the word networking conjures up images of someone running around frantically trying to shove his or her business cards into as many hands as possible. If this describes you — stop doing this now. If it describes anyone you know — then share this article with them. Believe me, they’ll thank you for doing so. Trust me, paper-cuts make a terrible first impression.

If we are really honest what I described above isn’t that uncommon an occurrence is it? It’s enough to make one want to just avoid the business meeting or mixer altogether isn’t it?

These drive by networkers can really give the art of networking, connecting, or plain old meeting and building relationships (if you’re not into professional buzzwords) a bad name can’t they?

As a general rule, there are two reasons people take this broken approach. One, in the rarest of cases they are just rude, and really don’t give a rip what you do, nor do they care to make the interaction a two way, win / win connection. Fortunately, that’s rare, but we have to be real here. Sadly, there are the few who just don’t get it. These folks are looking out for themselves first (and really, just themselves). The ideas I’m going to share with you here are not for those people.

Frankly, a person has to get beyond the “what’s in it for me only” approach to networking before anything will really work for them. In most cases you will find that people who are ineffective in their approach to professional connecting is because they just haven’t ever been taught a better way to go about things. For those that fall into this camp, the ideas that follow will be immensely helpful. You must apply what you learn, but as you do, you’ll see incredible results.

Change your mindset from “me, me, me” to the person who introduces others and creates winning interactions…

This works for a very simple reason. Because pretty much everyone else in the room is thinking about one thing, how they can start a conversation focused on sharing what they have to offer. While that’s not totally a bad thing, after all, in most cases it is the ultimate purpose for being at the meeting, especially if it’s a professional one. It doesn’t exactly take a genius to figure out there’s going to be a challenge if everyone in the room is simply focused in on getting their point across.

Therefore, one of the simplest things you can do is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. The best way I found to do that is to become a valuable resource. And in a room where everyone is focused on getting their message across first — the easiest way to become more valuable to others is to take it upon yourself to be an introducer of everyone else in the room.

Here’s how it works — rather than making things about you, lead the conversation and make it a priority to introduce different people to each other. Especially where their knowing each other might be of some mutual benefit or synergy to their connecting. Yes, it is that simple.

This works for a number of reasons. One being that it takes the pressure off of you which can often build up when you’re focused on meeting strangers and pushing your own message to those you don’t know. Plus the two people that you connect will be appreciative to you for having introduced them. That in itself makes you more valuable to both those people.

Lest you think you’re going to be left out make no mistake that both those people are not only going to appreciate you but probably also think about you on a higher level — because you went above just thinking about yourself. You put their greater needs above yourself. This is far rarer than it should me. I can assure you this is a good light in which to be viewed by your peers.

You better believe that the people you put first will absolutely want to know who you are, and what you have to offer. And one of the best parts about this approach is that you were able to get your goal of sharing about yourself and what you have to offer delivered in a very low key way. Zero pushiness involved.

I’ll readily admit the idea above is unconventional, but make no mistake that’s exactly what makes it so effective. Give it a try the next time you find yourself in a professional setting or for that matter any type of meeting where the opportunity exists for you to be a matchmaker putting the wants and needs of others above your own. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

It’s also worth pointing out that inevitably during the conversation even though you’re focused clearly on connecting the other two people for their benefit the conversation will turn towards you where you have the opportunity to share a bit about what you do. Again steer the conversation and keep the focus on the two people you connected but don’t completely resist the opportunity to share a little bit about yourself as well. After all in the context of the conversation it’s only normal that you do so.

Use props to initiate conversations — and as conversation starters…

For some people even knowing how to start a conversation with someone they have never met is difficult. One simple thing you can do is to get creative with stick on name tags. Generally these will be provided for people attending the particular event (you might even consider keeping some handy in case they aren’t provided). Most people will simply include their name. What I will often do is go a step farther. For example, I’ll write something that’s more likely to begin a conversation. I’ll include my name on the name tag and then something else such as asking a question.

Here are a few examples I would write on the name tag:

  • My name. Tell me about your business.
  • My name. What business are you in?
  • My name. What do you love most about your company?
  • My name. What is the name of your company?
  • My name. Tell me about your company so I can potentially refer you business.

Those are just some random examples, but it will amaze you how effective such a simple idea can be in getting people to initiate a conversation with you. Think about it, in most “networking events” people are looking around to meet and share what they do, and talk about their companies.

Just like you they are probably not completely comfortable with the idea of walking up to strangers and starting a conversation either. Much less getting that conversation to a point where they talk about their business or companies offerings. Friend, you have made it completely easy for them. Most people are looking at everyone’s name tag anyway. At the very least it’s a conversation starter.

You’re doing something different. You are different because unlike the majority of people in the room or at the event you’re making it clear that you’re more interested in learning about others first. And believe me, when you take the time to put the interests of others first, they will engage you in conversation about what you do as well. Everything is just a whole lot more comfortable taking this simple approach. Give it a try and I’m confident you’ll find it to work very well.

Be awesome and have fun in business!

Josh Hinds

Bridge the gap between what you want to pursue, and what you actually do

Friend, make a point to bridge the time gap between how long it takes to think up your idea, and actually begin it. Most of the people I see who fall short of what they want to see show up in their lives, miss out not because they lack what it takes to achieve it, but rather, they fall prey to the “law of diminishing intent.” In other words, they never actually get started. They were well meaning, but they never allowed the rubber to meet the road.

Certainly, you want to plan, but you really do need to be careful not to get stuck, as so many do, in the eternal planning phase. Life moves so fast, and pulls us in so many different directions that unless we get into the activity we deem worthy of our time we are far less likely to ever begin. If you want to get more done then cultivate the mindset that you will be a person who puts action to work in your life and bridges the gap between what you want to pursue, and what you actually do.

An amazing thing happens when you get into the activity — the details begin to come together and your own productivity kicks in. Keep in mind the following saying, “what we give our attention too, gets done, more often than not.”

To better keep your attention where it needs to be make use of action lists — using 3×5 index cards, or even reminders on your phone if you prefer, and write down the things you want to give your attention to. Make sure you see those reminders and you’ll have far greater odds that you’ll take action on those items, which will lead to more of your goals becoming a reality. It sounds like simple advice, because it is. Make no mistake, life doesn’t have to be difficult.

Remember…

It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG!
Josh Hinds

-Anything you would like to add or share about the ideas above are welcome in the comments below.

Strategies for Creating Win, Win Business Relationships By Josh Hinds

In the video below I discuss how to go about developing win, win mutually beneficial business relationships with prospective clients and customers. You will also learn how to strengthen your existing customer relationships as well.

Friend, make no mistake, the ideas included here are also helpful if you aspire to stand out in your profession. Look for opportunities to put what you learn to use in your day and you’ll be better for it!

It’s your life, LIVE BIG!
Josh Hinds

-What were some of the key ideas you learned? Please share in the comments below.

Win in the Marketplace With Strong Customer Relationships By Josh Hinds

“We can’t compete on price with the big box stores”…

Nothing drives me nuts more then to hear that statement from small business owners and entrepreneurs. First off, competing only on price (unless you happen to be the rarest of exceptions) is not a recipe for long term success.

Do you doubt what I’m saying? …

Consider that even Wal-Mart, starting out, had competitors that were larger then they were. The truth is that while delivering low prices was an essential component of Mr. Sam Walton’s vision — I would venture to say that customer service was actually their greatest differentiator, at least early on in the company’s history.

Yes, believe it or not at one time there were bigger companies then Wal-Mart. And because they were just getting started and hadn’t yet acquired the massive buying power they would later gain with their vendors, they had to look for additional ways to stand out in the marketplace.

One of the key things they did, and I’ll concede the point that to some who have shopped there in recent years this may come as a surprise, but Wal-Mart early on, and for many years, delivered an absolutely incredible customer service experience — in fact it was one of the things at the forefront of what was most important to the companies founder, Sam Walton.

Please don’t read that last statement and mistakenly assume I’m picking on the company. The point of this article is not to judge their customer service now, rather I’m just pointing out that initially when they were growing they put a big focus on relationship marketing by delivering exemplary customer service.

My reason for sharing the above example is to drive home the point that you, dear friend need to look for ways that you can create amazing customer relationships if you want to stand out and excel in the marketplace you operate in. It is as simple as that really.

Fortunately, for you, because so few people and organizations put the focus on the importance of developing a strong bond with their customers — those who do find themselves in a pretty enviable place.

Throughout the rest of this article I’ll share some ideas you can implement to join the ranks of those who benefit from effective relationship marketing.

First, understand this…

For our purposes here I want you to see that relationship marketing is looking at a customer not as a one time transaction, but rather, viewing each interaction you have whether they actually purchase anything the first time around or not as though they have a life time value. Which, by the way they do!

In its simplest form, think of it this way. A happy customer, will purchase from you many, many times over — until the point where they no longer feel you value them, or the point at which another person or company gains the positive mindshare that you once held.

In other words, your main objective is to cultivate a win, win relationship with your customers and prospective clients. In fact, you need to strive to do this ongoing. As you enhance the relationships you have with your clients the bond forms stronger, which only ends up making it that much more difficult for your competitors to come in and take your customers away from you.

This isn’t really a new concept I admit. In fact, this is the way most everyone in business used to operate. It is very hard to create the same positive mindshare with prospective customers when you happen to look at each sale as a one time transaction. In other words, if you have a business, or are in sales and are waiting for someone to come in to buy what you have you could be waiting a long time. Plus, you haven’t really differentiated yourself in any way from any of the other countless places which might offer the same thing you do.

Contrast the approach above with one that has at the heart of it a strong relationship marketing component.

Because you understand that it is essential to reach out and make connections you aren’t waiting for people to find you by happenstance.

For example, if you owned a computer store (or pretty much any other type of business for that matter) you could reach out to the businesses in your area, introducing yourself as a local computer retailer, not overtly selling what you have, but rather simply introducing yourself and what you offer, and then making a point to let the people you meet know that as you are out speaking to other businesses you’d be willing to keep an eye out and introduce them and their services to business owners whom you meet that have a need for what they offer.

Needless to say no one is going to mind hearing from or meeting someone who clearly puts the needs of those they meet ahead of their own — and that’s exactly how you will appear by trying the approach mentioned. Then as you go about your daily routine of meeting new people, introducing yourself and what you have to offer, you follow through on your promise to also keep an eye out for those in need of what the other businesses you met with have to offer as well.

Here’s where the magic comes in…

Every time you connect one of the people you meet, with another and a need is filled, your positive mindshare expands exponentially. Instead of being viewed as someone who has only their own self-interests in mind, others see you for what you are, as the rare individual who understands that helping them succeed is in every one’s best interest. People will gravitate to you and you will be the envy of your marketplace.

The beauty of this approach is that it works no matter what business you’re in. You’re not re-inventing the wheel, rather you are getting back to and embracing a way of doing business which people used to do all the time.

Creating powerful customer relationships begins with your willingness to remain open to the vast opportunities that exist, in every day situations to stand out and lead the field, often by doing nice things for your clients and prospective customers.

Here are a few more examples you can use to apply in your own business…

* In a retail setting – make sure that you make it easy for your customers to get in and out of your store in a timely fashion. Make sure there are plenty of people running the cash registers. Encourage the people who deal with your customers to smile and make eye contact (not the creepy blank stare kind, but rather genuine eye contact that helps to make the other person feel as though you’re actually paying attention to them). This sounds silly perhaps, but it really does make a difference. Your people will be happier if that’s an attitude that comes down from the top. It is difficult to expect something of others in your organization that you don’t embody as well.

Encourage those in your organization to look for ways to help your customers. Both of the items mentioned above can be encouraged by keeping an eye out for those who do those things — and rewarding them positively in some way for having taking the initiative to put the customers best interest at the forefront. One of the key things here is that it can’t be lip service. Simply meaning well isn’t enough. You have to commit to living it out and giving your absolute best to do so with each and every customer interaction. It’s a tall order for sure, but one that assuming you are able to deliver on can yield incredible results.

* Develop the habit of looking for ways to enhance the relationships you have with your clients. We touched on this above, but it is worth exploring further here. If you’re in sales (and we all are to some degree regardless of our particular position) there are countless opportunities to match the needs of others with those who can fill that need.

Most people make the mistake of thinking that it is all about filling a need with what they offer, otherwise they simply move on to someone else. The reason this line of thinking is flawed, is because it is short sighted. Remember, if we were thinking of each customer interaction as a one time transaction this approach would be fine, but we’re looking at things long-term — we realize that every time we build a strong customer relationship we also gain the opportunity to deliver what they need to them, again, and again, and again.

Therefore, by taking a little extra time to keep tabs on what others are in need of, the resources and people they need to connect with in order to be truly successful, we put ourselves, and our businesses in the unique position to help deliver those things to them. Of course on the front end we may not participate in the actual transaction — at least not in terms of any monetary gain, but we do benefit in a very important way just the same — we’re paid in positive mindshare.

Positive mindshare is eventually cashed in and makes its way back to us either directly — the person has a need for what we offer and we’re the first natural person they think of to buy from, or it comes back to us in the form of referrals, because the particular person knows someone who needs our product or service and we’re the natural person who comes to mind when they’re looking for a supplier to recommend.

The examples above are meant to be used as basic guidelines — by all means get creative and look for ways you can expand on the ideas shared.

The sooner you make relationship marketing a priority in your business and or career the better off you will be. Seeing each and every customer through the lens of a lifetime, versus a one off transaction is a much more effective, and lasting way to build a profitable business.

It’s your life, LIVE BIG!
Josh Hinds