Because Conversations Build The Relationships That Lead To Business
- by Ian Denny
Most things detailed here will not cost you a penny. Those that do, cost very little indeed. Let’s kick things off straight away, with the first four tips talking about our free WhatsApp networking groups.
1. Get Yourself Known – Stay Top Of Mind For That Moment People Need You
At a recent monthly event, I picked out two members – one offering printing. Another offering training on Xero products. Why did I pick them out? Not because they were selling those products constantly in the WhatsApp groups.
It was quite simply because they chat. Through conversation, you get to know what people do. That leaves an impression on you.
It works like this. Say you go and buy a car. An unusual one – you’ve never noticed it before – a Kia Sportage.
The moment you drive it home, you will start noticing Kia Sportage’s everywhere.
This is your brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS). A bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through.
And the Kia Sportage becomes important to you. If you are silent in the group, you quickly become “unnecessary information”. Chat at least a little, and you stay top of mind.
That means your RAS will be tuned in. So the next time you need printing for your business – you think of the person or people in the group that offer that.
WITHOUT them having to constantly pitch it. So why is that exactly? Well, we pick up what people do in their conversation. We associate them with their profession.
And because they chat fairly regularly, they stay top of mind. You don’t need to sell what you do. You just need to turn up every once in a while. You don’t have to be a comedian. Or an entertainer. People buy people.
Some people buy comedians. Some buy the quiet ones like themselves they can relate to. The chemistry is genuinely different between alike and contrasting personalities.
Those consistently joining in the conversation become the people you can trust. Why wouldn’t you ask the printer you got to know in the group for a quote when you need them?
2. The Chat Is Noisy – Where Do I Start?
The best tip – which may sound counter-intuitive – is to mute the group.
It’s one of the most common reasons people leave. The pings and notifications drive them crazy.
That’s why if you mute the group, you can tune in when it’s good for you.
When you are in the group, tap the 3 dots top right, and choose the option Mute Notifications.
Now, you won’t get those pings or pop-ups for group messages.
Now – How You Handle Dozens Or Even Hundreds Of Messages
This is very simple – do not start at the beginning when you open the group after a while away.
Instead start at the end.
You don’t need to read every single message in the group.
After all, if you turned up at a networking event, would you ask the people you meet to detail everything they said while you weren’t there?
Join in the conversation where it’s at there and then. Scroll up perhaps a little to see what the topic is, and then join in.
3. Professional Networker Tip – Start The Conversation
If you open the group and nobody has said anything for a while, the temptation is to log straight out. But this is an opportunity!
This is the perfect time to start a conversation. And it’s easier than you think. Here are 6 ideas:
- Got a challenge at work right now? Share it and ask for opinions on how to solve it
- Somebody submitted a link to a good LinkedIn post you liked and commented on? Compliment them on it, ask them a question about it, or continue the conversation they started on LinkedIn
- Ask a question – about anything – “Is everyone busy today? Or can you have an early finish?“. Or “I’ve just [done whatever in work] and I’m so glad it’s done. Done anything today you are proud of?“. Questions are great conversation starters
- Life stuff. This is about people. Not just about business. We relate to people we get to know. Share non-private stuff about your family. “Got an 11 year old. They’ve already said they’re bored and the summer holidays just started – any ideas on keeping kids occupied for 6 weeks?“
- Dare I say it, “Facebooky” type stuff. Some will scroll past. Others will join in – so what you’re planning for lunch maybe? Food and drink gets people chatting. Of course it also annoys the hell out of some!
- Humour and Banter. This is essential in groups like this. Have you noticed the existence of laughter consultants in a work setting? Tasteful humour and light banter really oils the wheels of commerce – so don’t be afraid to join in. But if you’re not a natural comedian, doesn’t mean you can’t take part. Without an audience, a comedian is nothing. So if something made you smile or laugh, an emoticon is classed as conversation.
Conversation-starters get noticed.
4. People Buy More When You Don’t Sell
I’ve already written about this before (“But…(sobs)…I need sales!”…There Is A Better Way…) but advertising what you do constantly doesn’t build relationships. In fact, you could argue it puts people off.
There are times however when you should sell. Do that in your introductions when people join. Or if we have a networking hour, volunteer to host it – educate people on what you do, which is an indirect way of selling how good you are.
Or, post about it in the Good Business News Merseyside LinkedIn group – see point 12.
5. Share Your Good News On Our Site Too
Every member can post articles on our site sharing the same good news we encourage you to share in our LinkedIn group. Whether that’s a new member of staff, a record year of sales, an office move, winning an award – in short anything positive you want to share.
As long as it’s Good News, the admins will approve it for publication.
Plus, if you are a Platinum Member, you can publish general articles. These can be promotional, educational – whatever you like.
6. Attend The Monthly Event
I’m a shy networker. Surprises some that meet me. That’s why I think it’s important to create an environment where even the most introverted networker can feel comfortable.
This is a community. And everyone needs to feel part of it and welcomed so they have the chance to take part.
Meeting for real absolutely gets you feeling more comfortable in everything we do. Those who struggle to network in the group have some of those fears removed.
But the effect compounds. I don’t like marketing jargon, but “touch points” add up to more than the constituent parts. So group chat plus meeting makes more of a difference. Almost 1 + 1 = 3 if that makes sense.
That’s why our event is centred around conversation. We create a discussion topic. And the first thing you do in manageable groups of around 6 people is get to know them through conversation.
So there’s no need to tackle a huge crowd drinking at the bar. Nor any need or pressure to sell your wares.
BUT we do need to know what you do. Which is why after the discussion topic, each person in turn outlines their business, what they do and the types of clients they seek.
That’s how we sow those seeds that can ripen later now that reticular activator is switched on.
7. Buy From People In This Community – Become A Local Hero
The buyers are the real stars of the show. They believe in buying local and supporting the community they are part of.
And let’s face it, every business has costs. From business mobile phones, insurance, paper clips, accountants etc, we all have them. Otherwise, we would have just profit (isn’t that a nice thought which may be true in an alternative dimension?).
Turn those costs into potential sales with our “Local Hero” system. You can go backwards in time and register purchases you have made from anyone in our community. Or, review local businesses you have bought from regardless of whether they are members or not.
They then get the option to take their free listing and the acclaim of a positive review.
Why? Because that gets you the reward. Each purchase you make gives you a reputation credit.
That gives you as the buyer:
- An additional page on your profile page
- A mention in our forthcoming newsletter as one of our “Local Heroes” with a link to this new and expanded profile page
- A listing on a separate Local Hero directory asking the rest of the community to focus their purchases
- A Local Hero badge on your profile
It’s such a simple concept. You get a credit when you review another member to confirm you bought.
That gives you your profile page which you keep forever. It also gets you the mention in the newsletter hitting hundreds (and who knows, maybe more than that soon).
When you have more than zero credits you are listed on the Local Hero directory. If somebody buys from you, you lose a credit.
Why? Quite simply because we need to focus on those who need something back from their efforts. So it only lists those who have currently given more than they have received.
And besides, it helps focus us on supporting this community – because when we do, we are rewarded.
But don’t wait for that! Start right now. Because you will be able to claim credits from any purchase, no matter whether it happened years ago, or right now.
How? Quite simply, use the Member Directory each time you need something for your business – need business cards? Type “business cards” or “printer” into the search and you can find everyone offering that.
8. Join As A Paid Member
This website brings the whole community together in one central place. It’s where we can find out more about each other to underpin a decision to buy.
It will always be free. However to build the supporting infrastructure the community needs – the site itself, its running costs, people to manage it, and further development to do amazing things like the Local Hero concept, it needs income.
That’s why we introduced paid options – open to everyone equally – it gives you a chance to stand out, or with the same standing as others in the same sector as you.
With incredible bias I would draw your attention to the Platinum Package. Even though it’s the most expensive, I would argue it’s also a bargain.
Every time somebody searches for what you do, you come first in the results. If others are in the same profession, you still come first along-side those, but the order is random each time.
You get an expanded Summary Profile (illustrated here) with extra info visible in the directory and search results.
This makes you stand out and gives you extra visibility with:
- A profile photo
- Company logo
- Additional business description (taken from “Profession”)
- Your phone number
- A WhatsApp Me button which allows people to send you a message conveniently
- Website link
And you save up to £15 a month on attending the event.
All Platinum Members have their place automatically reserved at the monthly event.
In addition, in the forthcoming Local Hero page, Platinum members will be listed before all others:
- Firstly by member level
- Then by number of Reputation Credits – highest first
So if you want to support the growth of the community, and get yourself noticed even more, please do consider joining as a Platinum Member – you can upgrade your package by clicking right here.
But what if you are reading this page and you’re NOT currently a member? You may prefer to join as a FREE member which you can do by clicking right here instead.
9. Create Special Offers – Platinum Members
The subject of some debate! Some say “special offers” or discounts devalue your brand. But not when they are either time limited or exclusive to a particular set of people.
And anyway, a special offer needn’t be a price discount. It can be a value-added extra such as support for a limited time. Or, an initial free or discounted consultation.
Either way, when you join as a Platinum Member, the ability to publish a special offer on our website is one of your privileges.
Not only does it appear on the website for everyone to browse and see, it is also featured in our e-newsletter which goes out to every member.
10. LinkedIn Tag Teams – Platinum Members
This is an advanced networking technique. What is it? Simple. Publish up to 5 target sectors as part of your special offer listing. This then becomes an advertisement and invitation from others to partner with you.
It works like this. Imagine another business selling products or services to the same people you seek. But they do not compete with you. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to build a relationship with them? If you trust what they do, you may recommend them to your clients. And the same in the other direction – they can recommend you.
This can either be ad hoc. Or, you could become a LinkedIn tag team. So say you offer IT support services to accountants. And an insurance broker offers professional indemnity cover to them as well. You can each recommend your own clients to each other.
So whenever you post on LinkedIn about how you can help accountants, ask your “tag team” insurance broker partner to comment – and perhaps even tag one or more of their clients into the comment saying like “This may be of interest to you Sue Bloggs“.
And of course they can do the same with you – asking you to tag a client or two in when they talk about professional indemnity cover.
So browse through the Platinum Member special offer section where their target sectors are advertised. See someone seeking the same people? Get in touch. Arrange a 1-2-1 over coffee and see if you can strike up a good rapport and a synergy relationship.
11. Connect With Everyone On LinkedIn
Your voice travels much further on LinkedIn if you are also connected with the other members of the community.
By making us all first degree connections, we will start to see what we each post there too.
And this has a cumulative effect. It increases the chances of likes and comments from fellow members.
Which in turn exposes your post through the newsfeed to the people they know.
You see, by dramatically increasing the number of local connections, the effect is exponential. It’s not just (at the time of writing 456 members), it’s also the people they are connected to.
You increase the chances of likes and comments, which exposes your message to THEIR connections in the newsfeed.
How? quite simply hit the LinkedIn Profile link from the Member Directory. But please note – don’t connect with more than say 80 in a single day.
12. Join Good Business News Merseyside – The Linkedin Group Which Connects Us On Business Social Media
This is where we encourage members to post what they want – you can be salesy here too!
Promote what you do to educate others on your business.
Or just take part in any discussions that are started.
You can share your good news. For example:
- Celebrating an office move
- Taking on a new member of staff
- Winning a new client
- A business anniversary celebration
The More You Take Part, The More You Get Back
And that’s it – 12 ways to get more for your business through Linked Online.
You don’t have to be the most extrovert person to win at this – you just need to take part.
Quiet, professional people who are good at what they do will stand out without having to become an entertainer.
The blend of online and offline options can suit everyone, regardless of personality.
It’s all about the conversations. Take part, and people will know who you are and remember you when they need you.
Happy networking all!