While preparing for a presentation this week I was thinking about how I had created a brand new business, reputation and profile in the US after moving from Sydney, Australia 3 years ago. I believe the 5 steps in building productive relationships are:
1. Reach Out - when I first moved here I constantly asked people who they knew, who were the 'movers and shakers' in Philadelphia that I needed to meet. People want to help you, you just need to ask.
2. Network - my whole US business was built on networking. Identify strategic alliances, groups you want to be involved with and serve and volunteer whenever you can.
3. Serve - by constantly asking the question "How can I help you" I was able to learn more about people, their businesses and what they needed. I was forever (and still am) making email introductions to people who needed to meet each other. I also served on many committees and events and currently serve on 3 Board of Directors too.
4. Follow up - do you know that less than 1% of people follow up! That is crazy! We invest so much time and energy on building new contacts, sales prospects and yet we don't invest the energy to follow up. This could include hand written notes, phone calls, coffee appoitments, sending magazine or articles to potential clients, sending them an interesting book or CD - follow up is key.
5. Persist - if you really beleive you want to be in business then you must decide to be persistent. Just because your proposal or product is important to you, it isn't necessarily importat to your potential client or connection. To stay top of mind of others you must persist, persist, persist.
Building productive relationships means you don't ever close a sale, you simply open a relationship.