Networking brings with it huge potential for building contacts within your industry, and of course, bringing on board new clients. But learning how to manage those new business contacts and truly nurture them into future clients is something that female entrepreneurs and freelancers often struggle with.
There are no set rules to interacting with new connections and building them into prospective business partnerships, but here are a few guiding tips that will help you build meaningful, respectful relationships with your connections that may well turn into business opportunities!
LET YOUR CLIENTS COME TO YOU
This doesn't mean pretending you don't offer services that are useful to them, but when it comes to selling someone your services you should try to take a backseat. If someone knows that they need help with something you happen to offer but they aren't sure whether you're the right person for the job, trying to sell them your services will NOT help your situation. Build trust, and try to get to know them. Who are they? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their pain points? Why do they do what they do? The better the relationship you build, the more likely it is that they'll grow to trust you. And as a wise man once told me, trust is the currency of our generation.
GIVE FREE ADVICE
This may sound counter-productive, but giving free advice is one of the best ways to nurture your connections and turn them into clients. If they ask for your advice and you give them genuinely helpful, no strings attached advice from the bottom of your heart, they will greatly appreciate it. So many businesses go in for the kill, so being genuinely helpful and honest will go a long way in this situation. Whether someone currently has the budget for a freelancer or not, they will always remember what you did for them and chances are, if they ever need a little help later on, they'll remember your helpful advice and come back to you.
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, NOT PROSPECTS
People buy from people. If you have services to sell, do NOT treat your prospective customers like prospects that need to be wined, dined, and buttered up. Nobody likes a phony. Build genuine, personal relationships with people and you'll begin to notice that when they need a little help, they'll come and ask you for advice because they feel comfortable with you. It all comes back to trust! If you make someone feel like they're constantly on the other end of a sales pitch, they'll never be able to fully trust you. Let people in, build relationships with them, and try to genuinely help. Sometimes, this may mean directing them to one of your competitors, but it will help strengthen your network and create meaningful connections with people that are based on honesty and trust. A strong, meaningful relationship will always be worth more than a single business contract.
LISTEN BEFORE YOU SELL
Attempting to sell to someone based on what you think they need just doesn't work. If you've just connected with someone and they're looking for help, always listen first, sell later (or maybe never, the best services don't even have to be sold). Listen to their problems. What are they having trouble with? Why? How do they want to overcome it? Truly understanding what makes someone tick and will help you better help them, and eventually, you'll be able to give them more direct and relevant advice.
ALWAYS BE PERSONABLE AND FRIENDLY
A little positivity goes a long way. I recently read an article about how being kind is a business strategy and I wasn't one bit surprised. Smiles are infectious, and meeting someone with a great attitude will always stick in your head far more than someone who complains lots or is unnecessarily negative. It's meant to be fun. Build new relationships, fill your environment with positivity, and make sure you're connecting with people you genuinely want to help. When you're open to the world, the world starts to smile right back at you!