The ability to connect is one of the most important skills that a small business owner needs in order to grow a business. To go one step further, the ability to connect is often the difference between success and failure. Increasing sales is all about increasing relationships.
Let’s first look at a definition for the word connection: A Business connection involves a relationship between two people which yields profits or gains or which creates an activity which contributes directly or indirectly to the earning of those profits or gains.
Building a relationship is an ongoing process of identifying and creating new value for others over a lifetime of association.
A connection/relationship should exist between a business owner and his customers as well as between referral sources and strategic alliances.
When you first meet another person, your purpose is to explore the possibility of creating a solid connection. With only a few minutes to “break the ice” the questions you ask will lay the foundation towards the establishment of a relationship.
The typical conversation starter is, “How is your business?” or “What business are you in?” Perhaps your first question should be “Who or what influenced you the most in your career?” In most situations this type of question will require some thought and a more meaningful answer.
Next ask, “What is your biggest business concern in today’s economy?” The answer will give you some insight into the business and the person you are addressing. It will also provide clues as to how you can benefit that person.
I like to ask, depending upon the circumstances, “Do you believe that those attending this type of event are really here to help others?” For me, this question has opened up the other person to share from a deeper perspective.
If I feel a true connection is possible, my next question is, “How can we work together?”
The last, and most important, question is the call to action: “What are the next steps?”
These questions are not asked in rapid order. There is usually a sharing of stories along the way. Somewhere near the beginning I usually find an opening to ask to hear their story.
Remember, this is only the beginning; developing meaningful connections requires an ongoing process. Keep notes of your meetings and establish a follow-up process to stay in touch and to grow the connection.
Tips and Advice by Nick Petra, CFP – Founder of BizQuack and StrategicDuck
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