Did you know that building business relationships is front and centre to having an effective marketing strategy? During October BSW Connect hosted a series of events with experts on networking, storytelling and driving online reviews.

Ron Gibson, a master in the art of networking from ‘Go Networking’, started our series with an inspiring workshop on how to get business from networking and the relationships you build. This was followed by an entertaining Sundowner presentation by one of our 2019 South West Business Award winners Stacey Murray owner of The Resume Creative on Storytelling for Connection. Our month was rounded out with a great Business Networking Lunch presentation from our long-standing business network partner Anthony Congdon from ReThink Marketing on Driving Online Reviews.

A common message across all presenters was “Connecting is Key”. Read on for some hot tips and takeaways from these presentations.

Getting Business from Networking and Relationships – takeaways from Ron

Did you know networking is one of the oldest forms of marketing, yet one of the highest return marketing activities that gets you the best results for the least amount of time, money and energy invested? So, to grow your business the bulk of your marketing efforts should focus on building a valuable network of quality business relationships.

Networking is an art form. It is about making connections, building relationships and having other people refer clients to you or becoming one of your clients. Developing a network that will help grow your business, requires the right mindset – wanting to learn about other people and how you can help them with their success, not pitching at them about yourself and your business.

To build relationships from which good things come, you need to get out and about meeting and engaging with people and spending time with them. A big part of networking involves attending the right kinds of events.

Some key networking strategies are:

#1 Build friendships – become good at walking the line between business and social relationships. Look to build both the personal and professional sides of the relationship over time. Develop a “close relationships” list, your group of 40-50 most important people who regularly help each other.

#2 Stay in touch – nurturing your network of business relationships is critical. Find low key ways to stay in touch with people who are important to you – by email, text, phone, face-to-face. If you have fallen out of touch get back in touch.

#3 Be systematic with your relationships – spend the lion’s share of your time on those people on your “close relationships” list. Keep in touch every month and always on a 1-to-1 basis.

#4 Give value – Strengthen your relationships by giving people something of value. Offer leads, introduce them to new relevant contacts, send them like an interesting article, invite them to an event, invite them to collaborate on something.

Storytelling for Connection – takeaways from Stacey

Did you know that storytelling can be a highly effective marketing tool? In today’s world of online presence, social media, reality TV and a blurring of work and life, a more open and transparent generation of consumers has emerged and so sharing our vulnerabilities through stories displays our humanity, openness and relatability making us more real, authentic and likable. Stories also help build emotional bonds between people and helps us to remember facts.

Storytelling is a great way of communicating in a personal yet professional way who you are, what your business does and how you provide value. People who spin a great story attract a lot more attention as it helps develop deep connections with customers and prospective clients, promotes robust conversation and inspires action.

Knowing who you want to connect with and what matters to them are critical to curating content for your story. Be certain to make your story bold not boring, and able to create feelings of trust and drive action. It needs to be purposeful and concise, relevant and relatable to develop an emotional and professional connection with your target audience, and to convey value in a subtle way so as to compel appropriate action. Your story must address two key factors – Your point of DIFFERENCE (what’s different about you) and its RELEVANCE (what’s in it for them). Listen to Stacey’s full presentation HERE to learn more.

Driving Online Reviews – takeaways from Anthony

Ever wondered why your business online reviews matter? Today we live in an era of unprecedented information and unlimited choices making purchase decisions difficult, so prospective customers increasingly rely on reviews to filter information and avoid cognitive overload. Most customers read local business reviews, more than half only buy from businesses with at least a 4-star review rating, and 40% pay greatest attention to recent reviews (last 2 weeks). So, your business reputation online matters a great deal to prospective customers.

Review ratings are the biggest driver of clicks in local Search Engine Results Pages so affect how you rank locally. To develop a positive reputation, don’t limit yourself to just one platform, use several on which you know your industry and target customers interact. A resource with the top 50 review sites you should be listening to can be found HERE!

Developing a positive reputation rarely happens by chance. You can manage your reputation by putting in place a feedback channel that allows you to improve your service offering while requesting reviews from your customers. Most people are happy to provide a helpful review if asked in the right way – a personal message at the right time, with modesty and no strings attached, and appreciative feedback is given.

All reviews are valuable to your business. To deeply connect and build trust with your past and future customers, it is critical that you respond in a timely, appreciative and humble manner. Check out how to respond to both negative and positive reviews HERE!

Use your reviews to your benefit by displaying them proudly in your marketing material.