Building Strong, Authentic Relationships in Business Part 1

Why do we need them?

It never ceases to amaze me some of the questions people ask in Facebook groups.
Is that really the best place to seek advice or recommendations on some issues? 

Don’t get me wrong, I have asked my FB friends for recommendations. But large FB groups? No thanks. 

How would you prefer to find reliable, knowledgeable professionals?

It’s time to renew your car insurance, but you aren’t sure you have the right coverage. After all, you got it online and just picked what sounded best. Where do you think you will get the best advice - a Facebook group or from the friendly insurance agent you met last week at a neighborhood event who has helped 3 other neighbors. I’m going to at least email that insurance agent before I take to the internet.

Some days you just need to talk to a human. A knowledgeable professional willing to take a little time with you. 

If you are that knowledgeable professional, you need to be looking for more ways to develop relationships even if the payoff is longer term.

Just trying to buy a sign 

That was definitely the case last year when we needed signage for CoCreate. I knew nothing about signs. I contacted one local sign company that was recommended online. I explained that I was new to this and needed help. They asked for our address and for me to email our logo. A few days later I got a quote with no explanation and no consideration for what we wanted or needed other than it would fit on the building. Umm…. I asked for help, not a number.

Try number 2… almost the exact same story.

Frustration was setting in. The clock was ticking. Then someone recommended Swatch Graphics. They had not actually used the company before. They had met Dawn and Tiffany in person one day and made a connection. I called. Tiffany came out to see me. We talked. We looked at other signs. They made the entire process not only easy, but they also made it understandable. That human connection, that time to understand my needs, that patience with all my questions. That was what I needed. Not only did they create and install our signs, but I also recommend them all the time with a story about that connection, their professionalism, the care they take with each job, and the quality of their work.

Relationships. Real connections. Personal touch.  Connections with a story. Connections that grow your business.

Are you just a logo?

We all have a story like this. So why don’t we market ourselves and our businesses in a way that will make more of these types of relationships?

How much money do you spend on advertising? Advertising that is beautiful and glossy. Advertising with professional videos. Advertising on things with your logo all over it. Let's be honest, advertising that is expensive.

I’m not saying this is bad. I’m just asking you to think about how you could make more lasing, authentic connections. Would that improve your business? 

I say yes. 

For my business, those one-on-one encounters are invaluable, even if I am talking to a person with a corporate job who would never dream of working from home. I never know who they know.

Protecting my tribe

Are you going to put a magnet on your car promoting an auto repair shop you know nothing about? Of course not. 

Me neither. As a business owner, I’m not going to promote or recommend a company or professional that I have not developed a relationship with. I can’t use every bank, financial advisor, real estate agent, insurance agent, or countless others who visit CoCreate.

I am a mama bear when it comes to our community. I am going to protect my tribe! That means considering carefully who I recommend even if I am recommending 2 or 3 for someone to checkout. 

I’m going to say, “I have never used Liz or Andrew. However, they both took the time to come to CoCreate, learn about our community, and asked meaningful questions that made me feel like they genuinely care and will do a good job for you.” 

Community and Opportunities

Over the past year, we have been approached by a number of businesses about sponsoring our public events or presenting to our members. Our usual answer was, “We’ll get back to you.” 

We wanted to do it right. If I wouldn’t let you in my living room, should I have you simply come into our tribe in the role of expert, leader, advisor? Probably not. I don’t know you. I want to ensure we have shared goals and values. I need to know you will take good care of my people. 

At the same time, do I want you to write me a check to sponsor an event one time in exchange for just slapping your logo on an ad? No. That isn’t our style. That does not promote community inside or outside the walls of CoCreate. We need to go beyond ‘just a logo’.

We want to help the entire micro and small business community of Lexington County grow. We want to be a valuable resource and have relationships with other valuable resources. 

To help fill the needs of local businesses looking to promote their business in meaningful ways and to help us provide more resources, workshops, and events to the micro and small business community, we created a streamlined sponsorship program that is an excellent value for all involved.

Becoming a CoCreate sponsor is beneficial to the businesses because it is more than us slapping your logo on something. It is more than a simple social media shout-out. It is a way to build strong, personal, authentic, lasting relationships.

Be part of the tribe

Our favorite thing is all the sponsorships are a year-long partnership and come with at least one virtual membership at a very affordable price. We don’t want you to just pop in and sell something one time. We want to get to know you, you to get to know us, and for you become part of the community. 

I want you to make those relationships with our members and all the people we reach with our public events. Relationships based on mutual respect that result in personal, quality recommendations in addition to sales. 

Some partnerships include the opportunity to present at events and work with us to create workshops that we arrange and promote. As an established member of the community, you have already established yourself as a trustworthy, knowledgeable expert - someone others will seek out when the need arises. 

These relationships are priceless. Back to that car insurance. If CoCreate had a property and casualty insurance agent who had celebrated with us at a Business Booster Breakfast, sought advice at the monthly social media check-in, and had been building his business at speed networking, would I even consider asking that FB group for recommendations?

There is value in going old-school with personal relationships. There is value in marketing to a niche market of people striving every day to reach personal and professional goals. There is value in providing quality opportunities that help the microbusinesses of Lexington County grow into small and large businesses. There is real value in being a CoCreate sponsor! 

Thank you to Kelly Cox with AdviCoach of the Midlands for being our first official Happy Place sponsor! Kelly saw her business grow as a direct result of speed networking and being part of the CoCreate community. Now she is taking it a step further to reach more people, form more relationships, and continue to grow.

We shouldn’t need to ask FB for recommendations for some of our largest and most personal matters. We need professionals to shift some of that marketing budget and more connections with the micro and small business community of Lexington.

Are you up to the challenge? 

Email Kati@CoCreateLexington.com to learn how you can grow your business as a CoCreate sponsor and community supporter.

-Kiri

Stay tuned for Part 2: How to build strong, personal business relationships

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2 thoughts on “Building Strong, Authentic Relationships in Business Part 1”

  1. As part of your tribe / community, I appreciate you being a mama bear for us!! I love the speed networking events – they help me make new connections without any pressure to maintain *all* of them. I can choose from those that resonated with me.

  2. Co-Create is a almost like a safe haven for me. I am able to clear my mind of the obligations at home, even the laundry. I know I’m valued and respected there, and also know that the other members “get” the importance of what we all do. We have different businesses and various goals, but the common thread is that we all want more. We’re able to focus and invest in ourselves and others as we co-work.

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