“Business is all about who you know.” If you’re like most of the San Diego business owners I know, you’ve probably heard that phrase once or twice. People will tell you how important it is to “get out there and network.”
They’re not entirely wrong: networking can be a powerful tool for driving business. The more people who know who you are and what you do, the more people will talk to their friends, family members, and business contacts, and hopefully send you referrals. “It’s a numbers game,” they say, and in some ways, it is.
If you’re wondering how you can get out, meet more people, and expand your customer base, networking is certainly a great start. When Maven first started, we began with our inner circle of family, friends, and already-established business contacts, but we are now seeing the need to widen our reach. In order to do so, we recently joined Publishers + Writers San Diego (PWSD) to make some new contacts. We want to get to know others in the industry so we can find out what other companies are doing, and our hope is that we can share ideas and work together to all become stronger.
There are networking groups like this all across the country and in every industry imaginable. If you’re located in a small town that has fewer options, check online for groups that have active forums or that conduct online meetings.
Here’s the thing: joining the group isn’t enough. You have to participate in order to reap the benefits. PWSD holds monthly meetings, and each has a focused topic. If I truly want to get to know other San Diego publishers and authors, I need to attend those meetings when I can. If the timing doesn’t work out in any given month, I can still connect with people in the group through email and forum posts.
In other words, I will only get out what I put in.
Beyond Networking: Building Relationships
While networking is valuable, I think the real key to long-term success is building relationships. It may start with a handshake and an exchange of business cards, but unless the connection is maintained and fostered, it’s not particularly beneficial to either party.
At Maven, we need to build trusting relationships with our clients because the nature of what we do is so highly personal. In order to help business owners create books that are filled with substance and useful information, they need to feel comfortable enough with us to allow us to help them shape their stories.
However, that’s not where it ends for us—after all, our goal is to work with our clients to create books that position them as experts in their fields and foster connections with their customers and colleagues. I often tell business owners that having a book is like having a long conversation with a customer. Books allow readers to sit down and spend time with authors, and that’s especially true when a customer reads a book created by an owner of a business they frequent. Customers get to see “behind the scenes” and get to know the person behind the business. More often than not, this creates a sense of connection with the business itself, and breeds customer loyalty.
I recently wrote about a San Diego business owner who had exactly that experience with one of his customers. That was so rewarding for to us at Maven to hear, because we got to see how our relationship with our own client turned into a better and more loyal relationship between his business and one of its customers.
Networking is important, and as a business owner, you can’t stop doing it. Your day-to-day activities will always involve networking of some kind, whether it’s through an actual networking group or event, or whether it’s simply as a result of you being out in public, having conversations about what you do for a living. If you want to bring out the full potential of those networking opportunities, then you have to invest time in building relationships with the people you meet.
We love building relationships with our clients, and we love it even more when we can help business owners build stronger relationships with their network through the books we help them create. Contact us today to find out how a book can help your business connect more deeply with customers.