Relationship Building : How to Expand Business Network
A relationship building activity in business is a far cry from building personal relationships. Yet, business relationships do have some similarities that clearly require good interpersonal skills and communication. When it is time to expand a business network, it takes a bit of planning and design to affect seamless relationship building activities. To learn how to build a relationship of this nature, there are several precursors to define. These include:
- Existing business visibility
- Business reputation and branding
- Type of target market
- Significance of the business as part of a community online and off
How to Build a Business Relationship
Networking is defined by a host of inclusives. These can be business and industry associates, a loyal clientele, links to community organizations and a well-structured plan of public relations. To learn how to build a relationship, a business must first study the “reflection in the mirror” of the business image. What does that reflection say about the business? Is it customer friendly or somewhat detached and indifferent? The importance of the steps to learn how to build a business relationship can be a catalyst to greater expansion of the business network. For example, the first step to build business relationships is “outreach.” This simply implies the method by which the business intends to draw together a close relationship with clients. Other steps of outreach to clients can include hosting onsite programs or online programs. It can also include special events.
The most important feature of outreach is “familiarity” with each client on an individual basis to learn their needs and their buying impulses. When the business is familiar with its clients, this is a free exchange in which clients also become familiar with the business. This leads to a reliable clientele of buyers.
Business Network Expansion Ideas
It may seem ironic that a business must rely equally on local as well as online communities to expand the business network. Putting a face to the business name is crucial to increase business reputation.
Consider the benefits of a networking event. In many industries, a networking event ensures greater real-time visibility than might be afforded through online contact alone. For example, ANTEC is a networking event attended by plastics engineers for over 70 years. It is attended by thousands of technicians, R&D scientists, professors and students and engineers, as well as tech support, sales, and marketing specialists, manufacturing managers and supervisors. This event provides exhibits, presentation of technical white papers and a host of program presenters linked to the plastics industry. Attending this international event expands the business network through exchanges of ideas and information between industry business leaders and other interested individuals. It takes nearly one year of planning that begins with publicity and registration at local levels of business. This shows the local business community the extension of each related business to the wider range of business potential.
How Corporate Responsibility is Related to the Community
Corporations have long been involved in external events and activities that show a deep sense of corporate social responsibility to the community. Many organizations are recipients of the benefits of corporate social responsibility to the community. For example, the Dow Jones facility located in South Brunswick, NJ shows its corporate responsibility to the community through its Family Center in Monmouth Junction, NJ. Another example is the corporate healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson, each year this corporation sponsors an “Energy Coloring Contest” for children. However, Johnson & Johnson annual provides charitable donations worldwide to communities to promote women’s and children’s health with programs such as “Mom and Baby”, “TB Free World”, and “AIDS-Free Future.” This shows how deeply ingrained corporate social responsibility to the community has become.
On a more local level, small businesses regularly connect their businesses to networked associations like Chambers of Commerce where events like “Aligning Business Goals with a Healthy Workforce” and the “Invest in America Summit” held in Washington DC bring together leaders in businesses from local chamber members. The importance of local fundraising events by charities like Catholic Charities, Aleph Institute and Salvation Army and civic groups such as the International Lion’s Club, Rotary and Elks, all provide community outreach sponsored by local businesses and corporations.
Some Relationship Building Activities Businesses
There are seven relationship building activities businesses can do to build relationships and get involved with the community. These include:
- Inviting community leaders from the government and educational sectors to work together to identify goals and values that link businesses with the community more closely. For example, the business and community leaders might plan an annual Founders Day festival sponsored by businesses and put your local movements on social media. The community leaders could provide historical exhibits and enactments for children and adults.
- Business could also take part in goal planning for the environment within the community. This could include restoration of areas with soil erosion or deteriorating municipal structures.
- Businesses should maintain awareness of upcoming plans for community events like recycling programs and be willing to assist with providing speakers and programs.
- Businesses can increase their social responsibility to the community by encouraging “Open House” events that provide all business the opportunity to welcome the public.
- It is also important to make connections for people to network with each other. For example, self-help programs, photography clubs, book clubs and even ballroom dance clubs are a great way for people to network socially.
- Another activity that helps expand the business network is to sponsor local athletic teams for softball, soccer, basketball or football for adults and children. Many businesses also sponsor bowling leagues and providing team uniforms for their athletic teams. Sponsorship is always a way to increase publicity and public awareness of each business.
Study the tips on building relationships and the activities that promote better business relationships between clients, vendors and business networks. With a little effort, expenditure of time and dedicated funding, businesses find they enjoy a greatly expanded business network for the long-term.
Sally Smith is a marketing manager with years of experience in marketing communication and strategic planning. The rise of the age of social media led her interest to center around digital marketing. At the present, she works for Real Estate Academy Australia, a company which offers real estate training courses in Queensland.