I took a meeting yesterday with a newbie freelance writer who picked my brain. She wanted to know what she should do to build her career. As I went through the marketing "requirements," I literally stumbled on what is the No. #1 business-building technique. Can you guess what it is? Networking. As I explained the key components to building a marketing platform, I kept emphasizing networking. And within that context, I emphasized relationship building vs. tossing a card at someone and then talking non-stop about your company.
Here are two critical components to relationship-building:
Listening -- don't talk non-stop about your company. The best thing you can do is become a great listener. People love to talk about themselves. When you meet a potential customer or client, open your ears, listen and respond appropriately. The person will tell you all you need to know and then look for ...
How can I be of service? Once you establish a rapport with a prospect, ask for a coffee meeting (lunch meetings can add up cost-wise). Again, listen and look for where you can be of service to them. If that service is simply answering a question or concern, your job is done. In the process of relationship-building it's about the relationship. The person you help will either give you work in the future (they like and trust you) or they might become a great source of referral. Either way it's a win-win.