Business owners and marketers create content en masse to help increase conversions. And while content creation and delivery is a necessary step in business development and growth, there’s often a big missing piece to the puzzle. One that too many overlook or don’t understand.
I once had a client say to me, “You’ve been blogging for me for a month and I haven’t seen a single new customer come through my door.”
There are so many things wrong with this statement; I’ll share two. First, one month of blogging (for this client, that consisted of two posts) isn’t going to attract new customers to a business. It’s not going to grow your email list, help you get more interaction on social media or set you up for a successful launch.
[bctt tweet=”Marketing is a marathon and a few blogs blogs isn’t even one lap around the track.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Second, and more importantly, content marketing won’t make an impact unless you’re willing, as the business owner, to step up and make yourself more visible.
That means reaching out and establishing relationships in the business world.
“Business, after all, is nothing more than a bunch of human relationships.” – Lee Iaococca
Why You Need Relationships
When I first started working to grow my online business, I knew little of the online world. I mean, I knew that people needed me, but I didn’t know where to find them. I had been bidding on projects on online job boards, a very impersonal route to making money for the sake of making money. (I had bills to pay and mouths to feed, after all.)
Someone would post a job on Craigslist, Guru.com or a similar site and 267 people (not really an exaggeration) would submit proposals to do the work. Most of the time, the lowest bid won the job. Not the person with the most experience or the proven track record; the cheapest person.
I got smart to this pretty quickly and ended up working too many hours for not enough pay, low-balling quotes in order to win the project. And to be honest, I wasn’t doing my best work because I had to stuff my schedule full of underpaid projects just to make some money. It left me bitter.
It was an impersonal, stressful and inefficient way to grow a business. Here’s the truth: People make buying decisions based on two things: price and relationships. In the absence of relationships, price is the main deciding factor.
Then I discovered Facebook groups and the online space opened up to me.
The Power of Online Relationships
When I found my first few Facebook groups, I was shocked to find so many other small business owners. It was a little overwhelming, if I’m being honest. But I also found people who understood what I was going through: the stress of trying to grow a business when no one in your real-life circle quite “got it.”
I started having virtual coffee chats with other business owners, people who I thought I might be friends with in real life. I started making connections with others in my industry and people who ran businesses very different from mine.
And you know what? Slowly but surely, I was getting more business from my business friends than I was getting from the job boards. And eventually, I just stopped bidding on projects on the job boards.
Growing relationships online helped me grow my business.
“Business happens over years and years. Value is measured in the total upside of a business relationship, not by how much you squeezed out in any one deal.” – Mark Cuban
It’s Not Just About Facebook
At first, I relied solely on Facebook groups to grow relationships. It was fun, but eventually it became frustrating. I mean, you know as well as I do how addicting that Facebook scroll is. And I also noticed a lot of cliques–people referring their biz besties for work when they’d never actually worked with their biz bestie before.
I was never the most popular girl in school, and I felt like I had been transported back to middle school and high school when I was the odd woman out. I wasn’t in the “popular crowd” and it stung. I started leaving Facebook groups that no longer felt right to me (and I wrote a blog post about this too).
Thankfully, I had a network of close biz besties (and plenty of acquaintances) who would sing my praises to their friends and clients. So when I left certain Facebook groups and started getting more intentional about the people I surround myself with, my business continued to grow.
It’s Not JUST About Social
If you’ve heard me rant about the use of Facebook and Instagram to grow your business, you know better than to rely solely on social media. Sure, maybe those relationships start on social, but you need to take those relationships offline too.
It’s hard, I know. (I’m an introvert too!) But building relationships–both online and offline–is the key to business growth and development. You need to make yourself visible, get a little uncomfortable and find ways to slow down so you can really develop the friendships that we all miss now that we work in our own silos.
Here’s the big caveat: It takes time. A lot of time. Success doesn’t happen overnight, for business or for relationship-building, no matter what you’re seeing online. It can be frustrating and ego-damaging. But the more you take action, the more you’ll see the puzzle come together.
“Patience is one of the most underrated traits in modern business.” – Marie Forleo”
Take it from someone who has been there and done that. I feel like I’ve tried it all.
But one of the other things that frustrates me about online business is that there’s not enough sharing of these essential steps–at least not in a way that makes sense and is actionable.
You need to present your content in a way that helps to build relationships with your audience and that nurtures them throughout that relationship. That’s exactly what I teach in my free Client Journey eBook. Download your copy below!