small business owner tip: relationship building Want to sneak a peek inside some superstar small business marketing ideas? Here’s the first one: It’s not systems.

Well, not entirely. 🙂

Honestly, I never thought this was going to be the key.  I had no idea!

In fact, when I started SystemsRock, I believed all I had to do was become the very best in my field and master the art of getting people to my site.

A steady stream of clients would be coming my way once everyone understood my expertise and visited my website, which clearly communicated the benefits of my services. 

Were you also trained to believe these are the two keys to success?

Let me save you some time by sharing my reality check.

Seven months and three versions of sales pages later, I still wasn’t making enough to cover the costs of the online programs I was constantly buying.

The realization of what was missing didn’t come over night.  But I kept inquiring.

Here’s what I discovered by carefully studying the successful entrepreneurs I admired.

Small Business Marketing Ideas 101: Rocking the art of building relationships was the single thing that propelled the success of my role models.

Discovering this secret key was both exhilarating and depressing.

I was thrilled to finally “get it” but worried because I wasn’t good at nurturing relationships.

Let me explain.

I’ve moved around a lot.   Over the past 18 years, I’ve lived and worked on 3 continents and in 5 countries.

With every move, I left behind people who were near and dear to me. No matter how close I was with them, our fast-paced lifestyles would eventually cause our relationships to fade.  And it would break my heart every single time.  So, I stopped building relationships meant to last.

Breaking this habit and establishing a new one was excruciating.

Anne Samoilov was the one who helped me break through my fear of building lasting relationships, and Michael Port showed me how to do it in a systematic manner.

SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING IDEAS: LESSONS FROM ANNE SAMOILOV

When I started working with Anne, she was Director of Operations at LKR and creator of Fearless Launching, her own course.

I discovered her almost accidentally.  I listened to her webinar and registered for her course, despite the fact that launching was not in my plans.

Anne’s candid examples of her own experiences echoed what I was feeling, and Fearless Launching provided the solution I needed.

It was a life-changing experience to be in Anne’s group.

Anne’s thorough guidance and heart-warming support enveloped us.  There was also plenty of room for goofing around and celebrating our nerdy sides.

The fact that the course participants were scattered all over the world never mattered.

Long after the course ended, whenever one of us needed something, everybody jumped in to help.

I didn’t launch anything during that round of the program, but what I took away from it was priceless.

As a small business owner, you CAN develop and sustain professional friendships online.  

Anne helped me realize that to be successful at online relationships you have to:

1.  Check in more often.  One of the most common remarks I hear from online business owners is that it gets lonely, especially if your family and friends don’t really get what you’re doing.  Wouldn’t you want to hear from someone who truly understands what you are dealing with?  So would they. Reaching out to them will make a world of a difference.

2.  Ask specific questions. You might start with “How are you?” and “What are you working on?” But as your relationship deepens, go with something more personal like: “How is that book proposal coming along?” or “Do you need help with any aspects of the e-course you’re creating?”

3.  Ask for help.  It’s funny how we tend to fall out of communication when things don’t go well.  We don’t want to burden people.  We *have* to be strong.  Yet, that’s the very time when others love to contribute to us.  Don’t spare them that pleasure.

4.  Share your mistakes.  It’s very uncomfortable to do this, no doubt about it.  But being open about not having everything figured out gives people permission to be okay with not being perfect themselves.  There is so much freedom in being who we are and accepting our imperfections. You need to lead by example.

5.  Initiate face-to-face meet ups.  There is still nothing greater than having live interactions.   Ask for a 15-minute Skype chat, invite them to Google Hangout, visit with them when you are passing through their country ;).

My offline relationships have always been based on intuition—I *feel* how the other person is and that guides my actions.  That’s not possible online given the distance and lack of physical interactions.

But the Internet offers its own ways of building strong professional relationships and that is key for small business owners.

You’ve got to find your sweet spot.  You might build your best relationships through social media or through a combination of events and online follow-up sessions or vice versa.  But you’ve got to experiment.

MY SECRET KEY FOR MAINTAINING PROSPEROUS PROFESSIONAL FRIENDSHIPS

I’m a 1-on-1 kind of gal.  What works incredibly well for me is reaching out to people directly.

Through a dozen of Facebook groups (thanks to all those online courses I bought) I’ve met a lot of passionate and driven entrepreneurs.  But, until recently, most of my connections were occasional and superficial.

Determined to turn things around, I went back and created a list of people I had a nice connection with and whom I wanted to get to know better.  Now, I am methodically going through the list reaching out and asking for 15-30 minutes of their time.  

Once we meet, I ask them what they are working on and if they need any support around that.  I clarify who are their ideal clients so that I can send them referrals.  I find out what posts and news articles catch their eye, so I can be on a lookout for them as well.  I inquire who they’d love to add to their network in case I can make an introduction.

It’s amazingly rewarding to make a referral.  It is incredibly gratifying to send a link to an article with a subject line “Thought of you when I saw this.”  It’s really powerful to make an introduction the other person was dreaming about.

The results of my new strategy have been astounding.  I’ve never felt more connected and fulfilled.  My professional life has never been richer and rewarding.  It’s been a blast!

Running an online business doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.  Reach out.  Be seen.

 

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