Many of us carry photo's of our dear ones in our wallets as a way to remind us of what is important and so that we can share that information with folks in our day to day world. You'll know what I'm talking about if you or anyone you know has a recent newborn in their family!
Right now I want to talk about other folks in your life who impact your wallet.
Your network is made up of key people who make a direct impression on your business life either because they are clients, advocates, or collaboration partners, engaged in helping you to grow your business through the referral process.
While the Holiday Season is a great time to reflect on what and who we are grateful for, I would like to suggest that the following ideas can be put into play all year long as a strategy to recognize who the key people are in our lives (business or personal) AND will help us focus on making sure that we are taking care of them as well if not better than they are taking care of us.
Primary Network Relationship Inventory Guide
Take a moment to sit down and do a year-end inventory of your most important relationships. And for the sake of direction ... let's list out 10 of your current, primary, relative, and important relationships. You should know instinctively and without much prodding who these 10 important relationships/contacts are. This list might include your best clients, mentors, advocates, referral partners, accountability partners, friends, family, (you get the idea). Go ahead and write them down.
Next, take that list and think about why they have made an impact on you. What one thing stands out in your mind? Are they a joy to work with? Do they send you referrals on a regular basis? Do they listen to you when you need someone to bounce ideas off of? Do they smooth the path before you? Do they tell you the truth when no one else will? Do they cheer for you and encourage you to push beyond your reach? Whatever you come up with for each person and how they have made an impact on you, jot that info down next to each person's name.
Now, take that information and reflect on how YOU have given back to them. Have you spent time on their blog or website? Have you sent them referrals? Have you listened when they needed to talk? Have you sent them articles that you found as a way to let them know that you are thinking of them? Have you helped to spread the word either through your own postings or through comments that you've left for them on their sites? Do you know what is important to them? Do you know how you can help them achieve their goals? Have you asked?
Finally, in looking over your list, take an inventory of your "staying in contact strategies" with each one. When was the last time you talked to each person on your list? When was the last time you sent them a card, an article, a referral? When was the last time you visited their blog or website? When was the last time you commented on their blog or website? Do they have a social media presence? Have you left them a testimonial or a comment?
Primary Relationship Building ACTION Guide
Building relationships takes time and it takes planning. There are very few good or great relationships that happen accidentally. And just as it is easier to retain a good client than it is to find a new client, it is far easier to strengthen and build the relationships that you already have.
Having gathered the inventory information from above, let's take a look at strategies for strengthening your current relationships.
Take your list of 10 people and the info that you've come up with from above. Now, let's categorize those 10 people into 3 groups. For simplicity let's have an A, B, and C group. The A group would be your highest priority. People in your A group should receive more attention from you. This might be a weekly touch or a bi-weekly touch or even a combination of touches throughout the month. The B group is next on your priority list and the frequency of touch might be once a month. The C group is next and let's say that you need to contact them quarterly.
And, What is a Touch?
A touch can be any of these (and probably many more that you can think of):
- A face to face meeting (coffee, lunch, dinner, networking event)
- Hand written card of appreciation
- A phone call
- A visit to their blog, social media profile, or website followed up with an email
- Posting on their blog, social media profile, or website
- Providing a testimonial either written or verbal
- Connecting them via email with someone that you know
Most folks enjoy 1 or more of these types of staying in contact. Think about each person on your list and decide, based on whether they are an A, B, or a C which ways you plan to strengthen and grow your relationship with them.
Now map it out. Take out your calendar and schedule in time to focus on the strengthening of these vital and important relationships. An online solution that I use and find very easy in helping me to maintain the connections that are important to me is called Highrise. You can learn more about it at www.highrisehq.com .
But I have no time! When am I going to do this?
I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date. I have no time, hello, goodbye...
Who among us does NOT feel this way? And, yet, we must make time to say hello, goodbye and quite a lot in between, if we are to grow and maintain our relationships in our network. It can be said that the strength of your relationships have a direct impact on the money that ends up in your wallet.
Pretty basic stuff, right?
Much of what I've written here is pretty basic and common sense stuff. Truly, it is. And, as Will Rogers said, "Common sense aint so common."
Additionally, folks tend to want to make things complicated when sticking to the basics can easily move them forward. And we all want easy ... right?
Please make some time over the next month to figure out WHO the key players are who have influence over the growth of your business and, ultimately, when you take really good care of them you are, in fact, taking really good care of yourself as well.