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How To Generate Leads By Building Business Relationships: By Adrienne V. Hill
SOUTHPORT, CT –/ -- DiversityBusiness.com /- It does not matter if you just started a business or you have been doing business for years, networking can provide a lifeline of support and business generating leads.

A great technique for generating leads by building business relationships is doing something inexpensive, unexpected and genuinely thoughtful for others. People will remember and appreciate the little things that you do for them.

Networking is beyond finding your next sale. It is a daily activity that takes place everywhere, whether at the office or at the coffee shop down the street. Think about the people all around you. Asking a person what they are reading at the coffee shop is networking. Notice your surroundings. Make eye contact and motivate yourself to start a light conversation. Making someone laugh is a great way to open a conversation.

The benefits of networking will depend on how actively you become involved. To make your networking effective in finding your next client have a clear focus and direction. You have to make others aware of your services and what you do.

In achieving your networking objectives you must consider that each contact is another potential opportunity to further expand your business. You will come in contact with all sorts of people everyday. It is how you integrate your connection into your network that will ultimately determine your potential for overall success in business development. There are lots of people out there that will recommend your business, you just have to remember to continue to develop your relationship with them. Naturally, we want to use services or products that are recommended by someone who has already used it or tried it and has had a satisfactory experience.

Networking is not selling. Look at it as an opportunity to talk about your business and to get to know your contact. Your main goal in networking is to develop a reputation. Act naturally when you identify yourself to your target market. Create a lasting impression. However, that does not mean to leave them with a dirty joke. Meet and talk with at least seven quality business contacts at each event. Swap business cards. Most of all, keep in touch with the people you meet by following up with them.

The key to developing a long lasting business relationship is how you treat your clients, partners, vendors, and service providers. The best relationships are the ones that are involved in a mutual sense of support. (i.e., the relationship between a printing company and a design firm). Most likely, the printing company is going to maintain a healthy relationship and do great work, and either party will recommend the other for their services.

Talking with others can help you improve your business performance, products, services and staff issues. It can be a key source of information and support. For instance, you can compare and discuss common interests such as staff retention, recommendations on accounting services or legal services. Maybe you can share some innovative ideas and best practices. It can be an opportunity for you to develop your knowledge and skills, boost your reputation and gather new leads.

If you are looking for ways to develop more business leads this month, consider what you can do.

Send out a note to re-establish contact with your past clients, current clients, business partners and vendors. This is a great way to remind them of you. Also, try to find out when people have their birthdays so that you can send them a congratulations or a warm greeting. It is an act of thoughtfulness.

Host a networking gathering. You are supplying a business waterhole of opportunities. It is another way to provide a platform to establish credibility, expertise and solutions.

Create a newsletter and tell others the exciting things that you have been doing. This is a great way to keep people in the loop of your success and build your status.

Build excitement in your follow-up phone calls. Smile when you are talking on the phone. People can actually hear you smile by the tone of your voice. Definitely have an upbeat attitude and ask how they are doing. Put them on a pedestal.

Take a service provider or old client out for a pleasant lunch or coffee to touch base. You never know who they might know that might need your services.

Volunteer your time for a non-profit organization or business. This is just another networking opportunity. It allows you to spend time with the other volunteers and work with them. This also gives you an opportunity to speak about what you volunteered for in conversation and write about it in your newsletters.

Have your business sponsor an event. Having your banner, advertisement or logo displayed is a great way to establish credibility and your brand presence.

Attending industry-related or target market tradeshows is a great way to network. Hosting a workshop is another great way to have a platform to provide a solution and build credibility as an expert.

Send out a monthly special promotion to your list via e-mail or by mail.

Have an industry-related BLOG and tell people about it.

Do the research on quality networking groups. Find out who attends, are they decision-makers, are they in your target market, are they in the area? Don’t waste your time in networking groups that get points or cash if they send you a referral. It would be a great benefit to you to research where your target market will be gathering. If you normally do business in the oil industry, research who in your local area has those types of guests coming to their gathering.

Be open-minded to the give and take method. Pass on a piece of advice or be available to discuss problems with those in your network. This method may result in business or referrals.

Another thing to consider is to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. You can’t exactly walk in and call yourself an expert, regardless, if you may think you have the experience that everyone wants. What really matters is how others ultimately perceive you. What is important is that you know your subject and present yourself professionally. Take advantage of media outlets. Be a guest speaker on radio talk shows that pertains to your audience. Write and send out articles. Another idea is to turn your website and blog into a resource. You will know that it is working when people seek you out to write articles, speak at engagements, receive requests or referrals. Keep in mind, that self-serving information or shameless promotion is not the way to get the perception you are looking for. If you offer good guidance and are helpful that is when people will remember you, your product and service. Conferences are a great way to establish credibility and gather names for your database. Always look for the opportunity to speak; however, be prepared and know your subject thoroughly to present the information well. Eventually, as you become well-known the invitations will come.

Finally, your personality represents and sells your business. To keep developing your business relationships you have to keep stirring the business pot. Keep the connections connected. Try to keep yourself on the frontline. You want to be a constant reminder for your established relationship to consider you as a business referral. As Woody Allen once said, “Ninety percent of life is showing up.” Hopefully, you will look at your surroundings, every meeting, personal contact or event as an opportunity to generate a lead.

About DiversityBusiness.com
Launched in 1999, DiversityBusiness, with over 50,000 members, is the largest organization of diversity owned businesses throughout the United States that provide goods and services to Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and colleges and universities. DiversityBusiness provides research and data collection services for diversity including the "Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities", "Top 500 Diversity Owned Companies in America", and others. Its research has been recognized and published by Forbes Magazine, Business Week and thousands of other print and internet publications. The site has gained national recognition and has won numerous awards for its content and design. DiversityBusiness reaches more diverse suppliers and communicates more information to them on a more frequent basis then all other organizations combined. We also communicate with mainstream businesses, government agencies and educational institutions with information related to diversity. Our magazine reaches over 300,000 readers, a monthly e-newsletter that reaches 2.4 million, and website visitors of 1.2 million a month. It is a leading provider of Supplier Diversity management tools and has the most widely distributed Diversity magazine in the United States. DiversityBusiness.com is produced by Computer Consulting Associates International Inc. (CCAii.com) of Southport, CT. Founded in 1980.

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