The Importance of Human Connection and Networking In Business
It goes without saying that without clients, you won’t grow your business. However, gaining potential clients doesn't happen by itself. You must create ways to reach them, entice them, and keep them returning for more. This is why networking is key.
To get there, you'd buy a lot of online and offline advertising, run promotions to increase traffic in-store and online, and launch a proactive public relations effort to raise the exposure and awareness of your product or brand. In most cases, this would work, but we live in a society where consumers have never been savvier. Marketers trying to sell to your potential customers simultaneously created hyper-resistant consumers — they have their guard up. This made it more challenging for us business owners to make our customers trust us.
How Do You Win And Grow Your Business Through Human Connection?
Now, I have a high regard for the importance of human connection in business and here’s why. Even if you spend thousands of dollars on paid ads, the chances of your potential customers choosing to make a purchase from your business are pretty slim. Why? Customers prefer to have that human connection over something transactional. They’ll most likely buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. I’m not saying that you should completely cut yourself off from using advertisements for your business. Before you can attract your new customers and influence their decisions, you have to build that relationship with them first. Invest in that human connection and get to know them.
You might think it sounds so easy – too easy. Trust me, I know a lot of people who neglect this part of their business. Some business owners often forget that business is all human to human, and if you separate yourself from that human factor, you’ll end up having more losses than gains. So before that happens to you, follow these steps on how to create that human connection with your customers in order to grow your business.
Get To Know Your Customers
Getting to know them personally is crucial when you start business with someone. People want to feel like they are more than just a transaction.
You can't have a genuine, long-lasting connection unless you understand the other person. The same can be said about customer relationships. What does your customer want? What can you do to help them? Find out what types of content and services your customers respond to and what they aren't receiving as well as you expected.
Consider building a customer avatar to help you establish your target audience. Making a customer avatar begins with giving your ideal customer a name and a physical description. Then, determine your demographic. Consider age, income level, locality, and educational status. Finally, you get down to business; as you’re fleshing out your perfect customer's qualities’, consider these questions:
- What are their pain points? And how can your services help them resolve these?
- Where do they usually get their information?
- What are their personality traits?
The most beloved brands commit to understanding and empathizing with their customers. They discover their customers' needs through customer interviews, market research, input from customer support, customer success, and sales.
Give Your Customers A Little More Than What They Expected Each Time
As business owners, we should advocate for the ones we serve — our customers. Try viewing your business through the eyes of your customers. Ask yourself how you can impact their life and think of something you can do for them. Many brands miss the mark by emphasizing features over benefits. By shifting your focus to offering material that's tailored to your client's requirements, you can begin to assist rather than sell.
Every touchpoint with your customers or prospective customers is an opportunity for you to add value and advance that relationship. To grow your business, you must provide the most value by developing a complete relationship around producing value rather than just a product or service. Identifying the exact value for clients will help you plan how to establish that human connection with your customers.
A great way to give more value to your audience is to create content — FREE CONTENT.
I personally love sharing my knowledge and the wisdom I generated through my years of experience with my audience. It can be highly aggravating for a customer if they only hear from you when you're soliciting for money – they'd definitely consider unfollowing you, it’s just a complete turn-off. However, if most of the content you provide is valuable — they’ll be more likely to interact with you. This value-added content enables you to identify yourself as an authority, boost brand reputation, and increase consumer loyalty.
Always Lead With Generosity
Generosity is the key ingredient to any business's success. You're in the ‘people’ business, and being generous can help you create trust and engagement with those you serve. It guarantees that your target audience sees you as a valuable resource and, as a result, trusts you more. It firmly establishes your message and allows for interaction without the forgettable hard-sell method. It also makes you stand out. When the topic of your industry comes up again, your audience will remember you more than a competitor who focused on hard-selling rather than generosity.
Being generous is also the mental attitude necessary to go from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. A generous brand approach draws abundance. Being giving means that you believe that your wants have been met and that you are already experiencing wealth. You give away your excess out of a feeling of abundance.
Note: Be willing to give away something of value without expecting something in return.
Look for ways to be generous that will impact the people you serve. People will still pay to work with you, especially since you have been so willing to help them get started with fresh ideas and first steps by sharing some of what you already know.
You must be thinking, ‘am I going to sacrifice profit for generosity?’
The answer is NO. I’m here to tell you – you’re not, so rest assured. Instead, it just raises the visibility of it. Profit is the natural outcome of generosity.
This is connected to the reciprocity principle. When someone goes out of their way to help you, there's the need to reciprocate it in some way. You can say that “payback” is ingrained into our brains. And it's pretty difficult to resist. When was the last time your friend insisted on paying for lunch? (No? Maybe you need new friends). You automatically promise you'll pay for the next one when it happens, don't you?
So how do you bring in all that profit?
The answer is simple, through networks. The people you impact with your generosity will be your loyal advocates and refer you to the people they know that might need your product or services – no need for paid ads. This is possible if you took the time to nurture a human connection with your customers and encourage a good relationship with them (people ask me how I make money – it’s through this!)
It's not “who you know” in business; it's “who knows you.” Having that source of relevant connections in your network can help you connect to individuals at the center of influence that you might not be able to talk to or find otherwise. It's not just about who you're connecting with; that person will already have a network you can tap into.
Why Prequalify People That Get Into Your World?
Not every lead you get will be your ideal customer. You have to be okay with the outcome that most people you build relationships with are not going to buy from you — they don't need it. Instead of focusing on every single lead that comes in, qualifying leads help you create a system for filtering the leads. It displays aspects of your ideal consumers, such as industry, company size, location, and income. This allows you to recognize them as they turn up. Your ideal customers can help you strengthen your value proposition, increase lead conversions, and develop stronger relationships with buyers.
You can find a million leads of potential clients. Still, you need to value “quantity of buyers” over “quality of buyers,” who will continuously follow the 80/20 rule and earn 80% of your revenues. You can generate proportional profits with high traffic, but it's similar to looking for a needle in a haystack. Why choose to make a million dollars from 10,000 wrong consumers or the same amount from 50 pre-qualified clients? Quality always triumphs over a number, especially regarding client traffic.
Now, let's talk about what you can do to prequalify the people that get into your world.
Who are your ideal customers?
You must know exactly who your ideal consumer is. This can serve as a natural filter for identifying the individuals who are likely to be interested in your services or products. Not every qualifying prospect will exactly match your ideal client profile, but they should all meet the essential criteria you set ahead of time. You can use these criteria as a guide when creating your customer's avatar:
- Size of Company
It's perfectly alright if you have multiple customer personas. Just keep it to a few (as thorough as possible), so your team can quickly target prospects and identify those who aren't a good fit.
Make sure you build relationships with individuals from centers of influence
Speaking with a leader at the bottom of an organization's hierarchy isn't completely pointless. However, it's crucial to understand the prospects' purchasing power or authority. This way, you don't have to spend so much of your time on someone who can't say yes or no. When your team speaks with someone with little to no authority, they should ask about the decision-makers. Identifying this early in the interaction will save time and allow your team to assess whether the lead is worth pursuing.
My platform allows me to build relationships with centers of influence and decision-makers – and invest in the relationships. I get the chance to interact and have a conversation with business owners, people of influence, and decision-makers. I'm not saying that you should start a podcast to achieve that (although I recommend you seriously consider it); however, you can utilize any platform you have to put you in a position where you're in the same room they're circulating in.
Be honest about the cost
Your customers must have a budget that is at least comparable to what you're looking for. If the prospect's estimate is too low or ambiguous, they're probably not a potential prospect.
If they do, that's another box ticked on your checklist. If they say they “intend” to allocate a budget in the future, that's not a deal-breaker. Just because someone does not currently meet your qualifications for a qualified lead does not indicate they will never do so. If they appear interested, but it isn't a good moment for them to buy, stay in touch with them until they're ready to begin working on a deal. Sometimes, the answer is, “not now, but later”, and that's okay! Adding people to your network is never a bad thing.
An important piece of building your network is remembering “not now, but later” means you still need to foster that connection. Your network is your net worth, so treating everyone you meet with the same attentiveness you would a paying client is important. Your network has to be nurtured and nourished with authenticity. I realize it's unrealistic to spend every single day personalizing every email and message, especially if you're a busy CEO/founder. But you can put effort into building your messaging around the curated network you've built.
BONUS TIP: Qualifying your potential customers is an ongoing process, so take your time to polish your system.
Growing your business takes a lot of time and effort. So having a network of people built on authentic relationships opens the door to endless financial growth and success opportunities. The most important thing to remember when connecting with your audience is to be genuine in everything you do. Trust that people are intelligent, pretty sophisticated, and good advocates for their well-being – don't slide into fake sincerity and try to build an artificial relationship. The moment you've earned their trust and referred you to people, it's a game-set match for you.
Now, although not every connection will lead to a business relationship, every connection has the potential to teach you something. Trust the process, rinse and repeat when everybody else is giving up – it'll pay off.
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