For Maree Hamilton the key to building a successful business and a reliable brand lies in the relationships you form with your fellow business owners, your coworkers, your suppliers, but most importantly with your customers.
What amazes me is that we are generally not taught at school about how to build and nurture relationships and their impact on our wellbeing and happiness. As individuals we all build and develop relationships throughout life and many of us do not give these relationships as much attention as they deserve. All business owners need to form a solid foundation of relationships to maintain business growth and brand awareness. The results of building business alliances can be astounding.
It is hard to believe now, but I remember back to when I first started my accounting practice – I thought the solution to new clients was advertising – Whoa was I wrong! I would wait for the phone to ring but I just kept waiting so I decided to do something about it and be seen! I soon was regularly attending business networking events and meeting like-minded business owners. I really enjoyed networking because being a sole trader can be very isolating. Before long I established a pattern and I was attending one networking event per month as part of my marketing strategy. I monitored the return on investment of my networking costs. Factoring in the lifetime value of clients meant that networking would become an essential business cost for me.
Many business owners have still not discovered the secret to ongoing referrals and new clients. For me, this was the combination of building alliances and creating a client referral scheme. Selecting relevant business alliance partners is essential – they should be businesses that would refer to you. For me as an accountant, I built alliances with bookkeepers, bank managers, mortgage brokers and financial planners. Clients that used these services all needed to have up to date tax returns and that was where I came in.
Who are your alliance partners? Remember that these businesses should be complimentary to yours. Optimal alliance partners are those businesses that would be likely to refer work to you on an ongoing basis. Once you have established the right alliance partners for your business you need to find where these businesses congregate so that you can contact a number of businesses in each category. Establishing relationships built on trust is something that requires constant attention. Once you have established your network, if you constantly work at expanding it, this will obviously increase the number of referrals that you receive each month.
Before you can succeed at networking you really need to be clear on who your ‘IDEAL CLIENT’ is! Your ideal client must be:
- A person that really needs your help
- Someone you enjoy working with
- You know what their challenges are AND how to solve them
- Someone who will RAVE about you to others and refer to you on an ongoing basis
- Someone who is happy to pay you what you are worth
So many businesses have clients that they really don’t want! They waste your time, always pay late and cause you stress. Imagine how your business would run if you could create a base of IDEAL clients! It is possible.
Networking works for me by attracting clients with a compelling message or tag line. My tag line is “teaching entrepreneurs to become guaranteed client attraction magnets and networking experts”.
What is your tag line? This is important because it will help you pull in clients and motivate them to work with you.
Building a foundation of network contacts will guarantee you new customers regularly. Make the time NOW to turn on your cash flow tap and see those new clients flooding in!
Learn about Maree’s book “Life Sucks but YOU CAN turn it around” at www.lifesucks.com.au