When Kristin reached out to me and said “I’d love to hear tips on connecting in business: networking online, offline, building meaningful relationships, and being genuine while building a business”, I immediately started drafting this post.
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Building meaningful relationships and connecting with others is critical to the success of your business, and it’s also necessary for your own sanity.
But how do you actually do it?
As an introvert, I had the exact same question when I was first starting out on my entrepreneurial journey.
Luckily, I’ve always had a thing for building relationships, but translating that to building relationships in business was tough for me for several reasons:
- I didn’t have a solid purpose for building relationships;
- I didn’t know where to find the right people to connect with;
- A lot of times I felt slimy at networking events – the connections didn’t feel real or genuine.
That’s about the time I took on a huge challenge: I wanted to figure out the exact steps I could take in order to build meaningful relationships in business.
Understanding why relationships are important
My challenge to figure out how to build meaningful relationships in business started with me getting clear on why we as humans crave and value relationships.
What do they provide us?
What happens when we don’t have the right relationships in our lives?
I came to realize through very little research and a lot of reflection and common sense that relationships provide us with comfort through:
- Connection (knowing we’re not alone)
- Support (knowing we have help)
- Validation (knowing others feel the same way)
Then I thought back to how many times in the past 5 years or so I had turned to an individual whom I’ve built a relationship with for one of those 3 reasons (connection, support or validation).
I counted A LOT of times.
What would have happened had I not had those relationships?
What type of place would I have been in at the time – and more importantly, right now – if I wouldn’t have had connection, support and validation available to me?
One thing is for sure: I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be where I am right now.
All of this combined proves what everyone always says: how important networking and building meaningful relationships is; plus, it helped me understand at the very base level why it’s so important (by realizing where I’d be – or where I wouldn’t be – without relationships).
Which brings me to the next step in my challenge: how do you build relationships in business?
Something else Kristin said to me in her email is this:
So many times I think that we know networking matters, or who you know matters, but many people don’t know how to build those relationships from a place that doesn’t feel slimy.
So then I started thinking… “Is it really that we don’t know how to do it, or is it just that we’re uncomfortable doing it?”
Or maybe we’re not confident enough?
Or maybe we don’t know where to go to start?
Because everyone’s personality is different, how you build relationships as an individual might be different from how I do it. However, I do believe very strongly in the five steps I’m about to share with you.
At the very least, they will put you on a path to success – regardless of your personality or where you’re at when it comes to building meaningful relationships in business.
5 Steps to getting started
1. State your goal or intention
First step to most things in life is to understand why you want to do it.
What’s your goal or intention with building a particular relationship in business?
Some examples might be:
- To have an accountability partner who I can meet with once per week;
- To find someone who is where I want to be so I can learn from them;
- To engage in a joint venture or affiliate relationship;
- To invite people on my podcast.
These are just a few examples – there are countless more.
And it might just be that you simply want to connect with others in your industry or niche so you know you’re not alone.
2. Pick your place
Now that you know exactly why you want to build a particular relationship, it’s time to figure out where you can go to put yourself in a place where these people might be hanging out.
That might be:
- A specific in-person conference or event;
- An online summit;
- A Facebook or LinkedIn group;
- Through a mutual connection.
Conference, events and online summits are easy to find via Google. Just type in the type of event you’re interested in (conference, event, meetup, summit, etc) + the keyword or topic you’re interested in.
An example might be “Conference for speakers”.
Another example might be “Summit for online marketers”.
In regards to a Facebook or LinkedIn group, a great place to start is to search right within the platform itself. Same idea here: you want to type in the keyword or topic you’re interested in connecting around.
That might be “podcasting group”, or “gardening group”, or “self-improvement group”.
Finally, figuring out whether you can build a relationship through a mutual connection just takes you talking about what it is you’re looking for with those you already know.
Next time you’re having a chat with a friend, let them know what you’re up to – maybe that you’re interested in connecting with people who have similar interests around gaming, or around comedy, or around music.
Then, simply ask if they know anyone who is interested in those topics who might want to connect.
Picking your place takes time and research, so don’t get frustrated, and know that if you commit the time to finding the right place to connect, that you will find the right people you want to connect with.
3. Introduce yourself, and offer value
Now that you know your goal for building a particular relationship and where to go to find those you want to build relationships with, it’s time to introduce yourself and offer up some value!
Remember, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Whether you’re at an in-person event, attending an online summit, or joining a new online group, introduce yourself and offer up some type of value that can connect you with who you want to meet.
For example, if you’re looking to connect with an accountability partner, then let people know that.
Post in the group, or include in your conversations with people, that you’ve just started an online business around helping mom’s build stronger connections with their children through one-on-one time together, and that you’re interested in having weekly chats with someone who is in the same industry or who has similar interests.
4. Be interested
This isn’t all about you; be interested in the others who are around you.
Learn about their background, listen to their story, and find out what it is they’re passionate about.
As questions like:
- How did you get into what you’re working on now?
- What’s something you’re really excited about right now?
- Any question related to the type of business or industry you’re in.
Through asking these types of questions you’ll start a natural conversation that will lead you to learning more about their interests and what’s important to them.
Based on what you learn about them, offer up value whenever you can. This might be through a recommended resource, an introduction to someone who you know, or perhaps you have knowledge or expertise that can help them.
5. Follow up
Relationships aren’t built overnight. They take time and care to nurture and grow, so be willing to follow up, continue to engage and always take the initiative.
If you’ve met at an in-person conference or event, send them an email afterwards and follow up on whatever it is you connected over at the event.
If you’ve met on an online summit, send them an email afterwards and ask what their biggest takeaway from the summit was, and what their plan is to implement that into their own business. Perhaps there’s a way you can help support them in that?
If you’ve meet through an online group, connect outside of that group one-on-one. Maybe you could set up a quick Skype chat, or bring the conversation over to email so you can get to know more about one another and what each of you has going on.
Be natural, and don’t over-think it
Relationships are a part of human nature. The reasons why we crave and value relationships – they’re a part of us.
So just be you! Don’t over-think the process of connecting with others and building meaningful relationships in business. Just follow the 5 steps I’ve shared here and you’ll be on the right path to connecting with the right people.
I want to give a huge shout out to Kristin for emailing me with this question. It’s such a HUGE topic and holds so much importance on your journey to building a successful business.
So why not start today?