Building strong business connections has always been a cornerstone of success. Creating meaningful relationships and nurturing professional bonds with a wide variety of people can unlock exciting opportunities and collaborations, driving growth, influence and impact. But as I keep telling my students, while human communication hasn't changed much in thousands of years, artificial intelligence (AI) opens up new means to do so, claiming to overtake many aspects of communication and make it more efficient.
As I've been researching the practices and evolution of business relationships for over a decade, there are several core issues people face around business networking:
So, can AI replace the human touch in connecting with others?
This is a common question I pose during my worldwide lectures. My answer is: I don't believe so for the current version of AI, but it can be used to support the "groundwork" aspects of networking.
Networking work consists of many small, repetitive actions such as: researching others, identifying common ground, effective communication, composing emails, creating social media posts and skillful follow-ups (where many of us tend to fail). With that in mind, the integration of artificial intelligence and networking has the potential to create a new era of efficiency, personalization and unparalleled insights than ever before.
This is why I would like to share common networking use cases and highlight some transformative AI tools that, if harnessed effectively, can literally reshape and support how we connect with others, cultivate our personal brand, expand our networks, establish meaningful connections and navigate the realm of business relationships towards business results.
Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com
There's no shortage of business masterminds offering their expertise, and there are plenty of business-focused events billed as "must-attend" functions. However, no leader has time to access them all and, depending on your goals, many aren't even worth your time. But if you’re a high-achieving professional who is eager to learn and grow in your role or advance your business, how do you determine which events are right for you?
The members of Young Entrepreneur Council have a few suggestions. Below, they each share one factor they look at to determine whether or not a business mastermind or certain networking event is worth their time—and how you can do the same.
1. Whether You Can Define A Clear Objective For Attending
I once went to an industry event, and a fellow CEO asked me very directly, "Why are you here?" I think I gave him a long-winded answer about understanding the industry and staying up on the latest trends. I asked him the same question, and he answered me very directly in probably 10 words. Ever since, I remember that exchange, and I only attend industry events where I can define a clear primary objective—and maybe a secondary one that's "nice to have." If I can't do that, I usually skip the event as it's just not worth the time. - JT Allen, myFootpath LLC
2. Whether It's Going To Challenge You
Is it going to make you uncomfortable? Embrace the unknown. It is easy to attend events with people you know and topics you've heard a million times before. Real change and learning comes when you challenge yourself to participate in something that's unknown. If it's going to challenge you, it will be worth it. - Chase Williams, Market My Market
3. Whether There Will Be People In Attendance You Can Connect With
I look at the connections—or super-connections—and what common ground they share with me. The best and most meaningful events are those where attendees connect at some level through unique shared experiences. To find this common ground for an event I am invited to, I always look at the host or person doing the inviting. Even if I don't know them personally, I can still find who connected us (a super-connector). In addition to examining commonalities between myself and the host of an event, it also helps to research potential speakers, panelists or mentors so that I can better understand what kind of knowledge and experience everyone brings to the table to decide whether their expertise aligns with my goals and would result in a more productive use of time. - Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.
4. Whether The Event Can Help You Improve Your Weaknesses
We are in constant pursuit of improving our business, and some of these events can help tremendously if the right people are in attendance and the right subject matter is on the agenda. Many of the events that I have attended in the past have had a direct impact on the growth of our business. This is due to the individuals whom I learned from at these events. But, I was cognizant to only attend if I knew people were in attendance who could help me in an area of weakness. - Jeff Cayley, Worldwide Cyclery
5. Whether Your Peers Found Value In The Event
We always ask ourselves, "What are our peers saying about this event or opportunity?" We want to see that entrepreneurs like us get real value out of it, beyond mere networking (though that's important too). In fact, we'd recommend skipping the first version of any event unless it's a direct outgrowth of a similar event with a proven track record. Afterward, if anyone you know and trust attends, ask them for their honest take on whether it was worth it and for tips to get the most out of it if and when you attend the next time around. - Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. Whether The Host Or Organizer Has A Credible Reputation
When evaluating whether a business mastermind or networking event is worth my time, I look at the reputation of the host or organizer. I look into their background, credentials and experience in hosting events that are relevant to my interests and browse through previous event records. A reputable host or organizer with a history of successful events and satisfied attendees is a good sign that the event will be well-organized, high quality and provide value to me and my business. Additionally, I consider the format, content and goals of the event to see if they align with my own goals and expectations, as well as the cost and any other resources required for attendance. - Kazi Mamun, CANSOFT
7. Whether The Content Is Relevant To Your Goals
The most important factor to look at when deciding whether or not you should attend a networking event is its relevance to your respective goals. See if the event presents you with an opportunity to learn from the expertise and experience of the speakers or other like-minded professionals that help maximize your efficiency and bring you a step closer to achieving your goals. Attending such events is definitely worth your time. - Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
8. Whether The Speaker Has Something New To Offer
I look up some of what the speaker may have done previously, like any books they've authored or studies they've published. I may look up other speeches to get the gist of what they will talk about. I can do all of that in about 15 minutes to figure out whether the event is worth my time. What I look for to make that decision is whether this speaker has something new to offer. It is particularly important to me that they have practical solutions to offer that would benefit me, my workers or my company. I want to walk out of such meetings with an idea of how to implement ideas that will make improvements. A speaker who can't give me that isn't worth my time. - Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
Image Credit: Getty Images
Despite its widespread recognition as a valuable tool for entrepreneurs, many individuals still struggle to use networking effectively. Starting and running a business can be both exhilarating and intimidating, and it's easy for founders to get consumed by the day-to-day tasks of running their company. Personally, it wasn't until I started dedicating time and effort to building my network that I realized the full potential of what my business could achieve.
After devoting time to connecting with other entrepreneurs, I established valuable relationships with potential investors who believed in my business and provided the necessary support and funding to take it to the next level. I'm sure building a network of connections is not just an optional activity for entrepreneurs but a vital tool that can lead to new opportunities, partnerships, and growth. Here are some tips on organizing your network effectively and with minimal time consumption.
So, what can one get from networking?
There is a specificity of networking among entrepreneurs – it appears to be much more effective. People in our community are often aware of the benefits that connection can bring and are more readily open to building mutually beneficial relationships, which is done by:
Without establishing connections, each of these actions might take much longer and be more challenging. But when you get to know the person who can help you, you will reach your goals almost naturally.
How to make networking most effective
The main thing to understand about networking is that it's a two-way street. To be truly effective, it must be mutually beneficial for both parties involved. It's not enough to be confident when approaching others, which is probably the most common advice for those looking to master this skill. To make the most of your networking efforts, it's important to focus on building strong relationships, which requires dedicated time and effort.
So, when choosing who to network with, it's important to consider what you can offer in return. Think about the skills and expertise you can share, and seek out individuals who you can help and who can help you. Building relationships based on mutual respect and a give-and-take mentality will result in stronger, more meaningful connections. For example, it's a bad idea to start the connection by asking for help. Rather, I prefer to explain how I can help the person and why the relationship would be mutually beneficial.
One way to build strong relationships is to dedicate time each week to focus specifically on helping others. For me, it's two hours weekly, during which I interact with people exclusively to help them. For example, have lunch with an entrepreneur who contacts you on LinkedIn or participate in an event organized by someone you know.
Of course, it's impossible to contact everyone, so one should focus on the potential value they will get. If a person contacts you first, I suggest you create a set of rules to follow when thinking of them or not. Personally, I pay attention to the following:
Make it easier for you
Networking can be challenging for entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons. Some may feel intimidated approaching new people, or some may find it ineffective. However, the most common challenge is that one may have limited time and resources to dedicate to networking activities, making it difficult to balance with other responsibilities. By following these tips, you can reap the benefits of investing in networking:
These easy techniques will help you utilize your time most effectively without investing too much effort.
Never stop expanding your network.
Networking is a critical tool for entrepreneurs looking to grow and succeed in their businesses. Only by investing time and effort into building strong relationships can you unlock the full potential of your business. The broader your network is, the more opportunities you gain, and the more time you have to find them. Starting may be challenging, but it will become natural eventually.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
When it comes to growing your business, customers are key. While you should definitely create valuable products that your customers will love, you need to take things a step further when it’s time to market your products.
There’s nothing wrong with posting on TikTok or attending trade shows, but I find that most marketing campaigns are missing an essential ingredient: relationships. If you want to build a loyal following of lifelong customers, you have to invest in relationships with your customers.
If you haven’t tried it yet, relationship marketing is a way to boost sales, overcome digital fatigue and finally get your message out to the masses. Let’s look at what relationship marketing is and how it can transform your business.
What is relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing uses a blend of offline and digital tactics to foster deeper connections between brands and consumers. It’s essentially doing everything you can to invest in relationships with your customers.
Relationship marketing is more common in B2B industries where high-ticket contracts are usually on the line, but it’s relevant in the product space, too. Any business can leverage the power of relationships to boost sales.
Five Reasons Why Businesses Invest In Relationship Marketing
Relationship marketing looks at the long-term, not necessarily what’s happening right now. Since you can’t build close relationships in a day, you have to nurture these leads and earn their trust over time. It might sound like hard work (and it is), but relationship marketing can give your business these five major benefits:
1. Save money.
Have you seen how much paid ads cost these days? Advertising can quickly burn through your budget; plus, customers don’t really like ads. Instead of running tons of ad campaigns, you can invest in relationship marketing to save money.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to win people over. You do need to spend time and energy investing in relationships, but even with a scrappy marketing budget, you can make relationship marketing work for you. Instead of throwing money at the problem, you spend time getting to know your customers, which will reap dividends.
2. Generate positive reviews.
If you’ve been struggling to source reviews—or you’re trying to overcome a few negative Google reviews—relationship marketing can give you a much-needed boost.
If you invest in your customers, they’ll invest in you. More often than not, tight customer relationships will boost customer satisfaction, which can increase your online reviews, too. Satisfied customers are more than happy to do you a favor by leaving a five-star review.
3. Collect valuable customer feedback.
Customers are more likely to share honest, helpful information if they believe in your business. Sometimes it can be hard to accept customer feedback, but constructive criticism will strengthen your business, so it’s smart to welcome customer feedback. Over time, customer feedback can help you better understand shopper needs and design better products—both of which will help you increase sales.
4. Retain loyal customers.
Did you know that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by as much as 95%? There’s nothing wrong with sourcing new customers, but if you want to keep more of those customers around, you need to invest in relationship marketing.
Relationship marketing helps you forge stronger customer relationships built on a foundation of trust. When you invest in your shoppers, they’ll invest back into your business in the form of long-term loyalty.
5. Competitor-proof your business.
If you’re locked in a vicious tug-of-war with a competitor, you need every edge you can get. Fortunately, relationship marketing can differentiate your business in a way that your competitor can’t copy.
Strategies For Leveraging Relationship Marketing
Relationship marketing is a strategic, thoughtful way of interacting with your customers. And no, this isn’t something reserved for small businesses. Any business can do relationship marketing at scale, provided you work to have the right strategy and tools for the job.
Sure, it’s important to stand out in terms of your product features and pricing, but your competitors can copy that. They can’t copy the relationships you forge with your customers. It’s an intangible feature that people simply can’t take away from your business, and that should be your ace in the hole.
Image Credit: Getty Images
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.