In the modern environment, it’s easy to hide behind a screen and think that digital only marketing is enough. Yes, digital marketing can be cost effective and you can reach many people at once, but can you truly build meaningful business relationships through social media interactions and email campaigns alone? In a B2B environment, whether you are offering an actual product or a professional service, I don’t think you can.
Imagine in a personal context, the internet dating scenario. You hear of endless of examples where people have found each other on dating apps, they have admired each other’s (sometimes heavily filtered) photos and messaged long into the night but when they’ve met in person there’s just no ‘spark’ (or those pictures haven’t quite reflected the truth)!
It’s not really all that difference in business. There is a well-known saying that ‘people buy people’ and some take it further by saying ‘people buy people they like’. But how do you know if you like someone and therefore want to develop a business relationship with them if you haven’t actually met them?
Email campaigns are great for mass promotion of your product or service and your chosen social media platforms give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise and give your brand and content more personality, but following that initial brand awareness, nothing beats old fashioned face to face conversations.
That’s why events such as LinkedIn Locals are so important. You get to meet the person behind the profile and connect on a personal level as well as expand your network (which can then develop on social media). I attended my first LinkedIn local this week and the room was still full of people deep in conversation way after the event was due to finish. Find out if there’s an event near you by searching #linkedinlocal on LinkedIn.
I attended an event last week where a Director of a fast-growing family-run business talked about how he and his executive team (his brothers) went about appointing advisers. They initially sought recommendations from their bank, but the appointment was heavily predicated on personal chemistry. They wanted to feel a connection with the team they appointed, and be sure there was a good ‘fit’ with their own team.
It’s not just at the appointment stage where personal interactions matter. Once you have made the sale, it’s vital to keep connecting with your clients on a human level. This could be through events, relationship development programmes or seeking their feedback on your offering. This demonstrates integrity and makes them feel valued and less likely to seek alternative provision.
Yes, networking can be a timely and expensive business but when you find the right events, the ones where your target audience are, it’s a worthwhile investment. It’s through personal connections that rapport and trust are built, and these are the enablers for sales and growth.
If you would like to talk about how I can help you strengthen your business relationships, please contact me for a no obligation meeting – face to face of course!