Smart business professionals take care to cultivate strong relationships with centers of influence. A recent article from The Business Journals stressed the importance of dedicating time to doing so through modern technology channels. We at Vestorly understand what a daunting task it is to cultivate referrals digitally so we’d like to suggest a few starting points.
The challenge to building valuable relationships online is distinguishing yourself from a crowd of others asking to “grow our businesses together.” Think of every online contact as another client, requiring ongoing nurturing just like any other relationship with potential value.
To develop meaningful, referral-worthy relationships, grounded in trust and partnership with other professionals, use your digital communication strategy to your advantage. Here’s how.
Your online relationships aren’t any different from your in-person relationships with clients and prospective clients. With both, you want to avoid commoditizing your relationship and services. You’re not just selling a product or service; you’re building a relationship. Likewise, you’re not just advertizing your skills; you’re exchanging knowledge and experience to benefit clients and hopefully increase your own business.
As you present yourself as trustworthy, professional, respected, and knowledgeable to prospective clients, you can support this effort with your digital communication strategy.
Compliment your face-to-face meetings and real life relationship building with a digital presence that enhances your reputation.
Try This: Create a weekly Email Roundup for your contacts. Share content related to their practices, your practice, the overlaps between the two, and news that might impact your mutual contacts. Your consistent, reliable communication keeps you top of mind with professional, helpful content.
Your consistent digital communication should feature content that distinguishes you as a resource. Share truly educational pieces that have direct applications to your contacts’ businesses rather than fluff pieces or self-promotional articles that aren’t inherently valuable.
Try This: In your regular communication, include content on topics that relate to your contacts particular businesses.
“Let’s trade lists” puts contacts first and your clients second in your relationships. It’s a low-value offer, it reduces your professionalism and it even seems desperate. The benefit of your relationship should be a better experience for your clients. When you present a partnership based on better servicing clients, you’ve offered real value in the form of knowledge, experience and tools to improve the client relationship. You also let the contact see how you work and how you put in the extra work for clients.
Initiate and maintain a client-first strategy with digital communication:
This turns the typical contact referral request on its head because you’re not actually requesting anything. You’ve positioned yourself as a source of value and demonstrated your professionalism and commitment to clients, establishing a relationship far more likely to lead to referrals.
If you’re unsure of the best way to approach centers of influence, just think of them as clients and initiate and maintain relationships in the same way. Like any valuable partnership, it’ll require live meetings and your personal touch, but can easily be supplemented and supported by digital communication.