All of us running our own business have our backs squarely against the wall. We need to look after our network ...
Now is the time when all those cups of coffee, attending networking events, commenting on others posts online and making introductions will pay off. The positive relationships you built are the people who are with you now.
When under such pressure, with underlying anxiety and no clear idea of what coming out the other side will look like, it’s easy to retreat into your own world and get into a mindset of "I’m alright Jack!”
Get virtually 'out there' and spend more time and effort looking after your network. After all, who do you want standing next to you on the other side? Start with the mindset that you can always do something to help this other person and equally they can do something to help you.
It starts with a conversation, actually lots of conversations. Open up and explore what is happening and what you each needs to go forward. Now is not the time to be the 'brave little soldier' and pretend everything is OK in your world because we all know that it's not. Ask for help as well as offer it. Here are some ways to break down the things you can do for each other that will make a difference:
Information. So many changes and new initiatives coming from the Government all the time. Few of us, if any, can keep yourselves up to date with all of it. Fortunately, we don't need to. Your business network is full of experts who know their way around specific areas.
Ask any accountant worth his/her salt right now. They have been inundated with requests for information on Government relief schemes. Yet would you believe some accountants have not even phoned their clients, let alone offered help to their wider contacts!
Now is the time for offering this information for free, stretch the boundaries a bit between what you give away and what is billable.
Support. Often this is just listening. Maybe people don’t want advice they just want you to be there? A virtual coffee across the ether does not necessarily solve anything but can work wonders just because you took the time to be there.
Equally, support can be a compassionate challenge to help someone look at their issues through a different lens. Come up with new solutions. It's what good coaches do that the rest of us can emulate and a key component of peer-to-peer groups like Mastermind and Action Learning sets.
Then even with tough times overall, either or both of you will have successes. From a high five on-screen to a bottle of bubbly arriving at your door, celebrations are more meaningful when shared. Please, please, please do more than just an automatic 'like' on social media. Every success is a battle won that takes you nearer to total victory.
Resources. Ah now, this is a touchy one. Some things are going to be in short supply (and for my English readers this may be more than loo roll!)Can you help out?
Not everyone can decant their business to their spare room at home. Maybe someone needs some storage space whilst you’ve got space to spare? Social distancing permitting, of course, no point in putting yourselves at risk. Or maybe someone needs somewhere suitable to record a video? If you can help ... help!
Money is the really thorny issue here. Someone today told me of a wealthy friend who offered to bail him out. You may not feel comfortable borrowing from a friend and, of course, you may not have spare cash yourself to offer others.
It may be someone needs to use your billable services but can’t afford them so you may offer mates rates or flexible payment terms. Don’t dismiss it out of hand, just do the business case and set out the legalities properly. A formal contract can save many a misunderstanding, recriminations and the loss of a friendship
This is where the strength of your relationship and how well you really know someone comes to the fore. And, of course, always, always live up to your side of the bargain.
Connections. Yes, ultimately you want introductions to people in a position to buy from you, however, introductions can come in many forms. We all play the part of buyer, seller and referrer at different times.
You and others in your network can also play the part of the middle man. You may not be able to help their contact but you may know someone who knows someone who can. To help this process, make it easy for each other to recognise the people you want to meet.
No vague 'anybodies', paint a vivid picture and trigger phrases people use that will help you spot opportunities for each other. Business is going to be hard to come by so don’t let opportunities slide by without being noticed.
Follow these simple steps to look after your network and enable them to help you in return, and you will emerge from the present crisis with deeper, stronger relationships that will last you a lifetime.
Be safe and reach out to your network and they’ll reach out to you.
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.