It’s no secret that relationships are the cornerstone of any business, both personal and professional. Social media and the internet have made it even easier, but not for everyone. Many people still find social media cumbersome and annoying. I hear remarks like, “I don’t like being online; I wasn’t born during the online era,” or “It takes too much time.” So instead of taking what I call the easy way out, they use the old meet at the country club and the golf course, and that’s the end of their networking initiatives.
Not that this doesn’t work, it’s just a limited way to network. To really get the most out of your networking objectives, you must be more sophisticated in your approach. For example, you need to start looking at your present customers and who their replacements are going to be. How do you connect with them? What do you have in common? You may have to learn some new ways to communicate but it’s important to not lose the next generation of customers since you’ve worked so hard for their parents’ business.
Before embarking on any new networking initiatives, I would start by examining your values. What do you care about and what do you value?
Your values are not about your business acumen, years in business or competitive strengths. It’s what lives in your heart. Is it children, pets, older adults, what matters to you, who would you like to help grow or help make a change in your community? Once you figure this out, you can begin to seek out new or unconventional partners.
Some believe there’s opportunities in networking to the not-for-profit organizations in your area. But how would you get started? I suggest you consider becoming a volunteer and then get your employees to volunteer and become more well known in the community. The next step would be to make a bid to be on the board of directors and chair a committee. Yes, this is work but you only need one organization to be part of and manage.
Another option is to host and event for a not-for-profit and have them do a mailing with you. It’s not only one of the best things you can do (feel good by doing good), but you stand to make money in the process. And at the end of the day you’re really investing in your community.
Be sure to align with an organization that has a large mailing list and knows how to use social media. If not, you’ll wind up doing all the work. Remember, you’re looking for a “successful” not-for-profit. Start thinking how you will cross-promote. If you’re going to build your business, you must think this way; otherwise you are really working for them and not your own business.
Also, with a not for-profit, it’s easy to bring in community leaders and city officials with out appearing self-serving. It will help you connect with people you want to know but don’t know currently. In fact, many not-for-profits have yearly galas—events that draw a multitude of wealthy supporters you might want to get to know.
That’s a pretty good place to start.
Be sure to align with an organization that has a large mailing list and knows how to use social media. If not, you’ll wind up doing all the work.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org