Some business relationships naturally tend to be more beneficial than others. For example, if you are targeting businesses that cater to the wedding market, it makes sense to develop relationships with people who work in businesses such as event planners, florists and caterers. If you’re a mortgage lender, good contacts for you include realtors and an insurance salesperson. By building business relationships with people who share the same niche target customer that you do, you are forming what is commonly referred to as a contact sphere. Contact spheres are generally formed by people who are in compatible but non-competitive professions. As you get to know each other and develop trust, you can refer business to each other and help each other to be successful.
Being analytical by nature, I don’t usually do much of anything without having a goal, a strategy and a plan. Even a trip to the grocery store involves a list (if only a post-it note), a destination and almost always a strategy involving a carefully laid out plan to combine multiple errands mapped out in a path that involves keeping in mind traffic patterns. (My husband’s suspicions that I’m a little nuts might be confirmed if he had any idea what is actually involved in my thought process.) Having said that, when I wrote my last blog article, “5 Tips for Incorporating Twitter into Your Social Networking Strategy”, I wrongly assumed that lots of people start out tweeting with goals and a detailed plan. As I read some of the comments, I quickly learned that some of my blogging friends are frustrated with Twitter and it’s not working for them the way they had intended. So, I’d like to know more.
Social networking is all about connecting and building a community. To me, it’s really no different from socializing in “real life”. Sure, it may be a little more difficult because you can’t hear the person’s tone of voice or see the twinkle in their eye that lets you know they’re kidding but it still is a matter of getting to know each other, building trust and establishing meaningful and hopefully mutually beneficial relationships.
Anyone who has tried to build a business knows how important it is to build awareness. If your customers don’t know you’re out there, how are they ever going to buy from you? So, how do you build awareness? Advertising is one way but you can also network. If you’re a business with a local customer base, you may already belong to a Chamber of Commerce or a networking group like BNI (Business Network International). So, what’s the equivalent of a Chamber of Commerce or BNI on the Internet?