THE FULL STORY

Relationship matters

Relationships matter

As unemployment figures grow, and will surely continue to rise when the furlough scheme ends, it is useful to know that 85% of positions are filled by networking. (
Source Review 42: unbiased reviews on everything from cat socks to advanced security software.) The current global pandemic is affecting us all right now, however, it could further impact us in the recovery period if we don’t continue to maintain and grow our key relationships. When times are tough it’s always better to work together, forge new connections, and communicate with others.

Your clients need to know we are here to help. Now is a great time to reach out to those you have not heard from in a while or those lapsed contacts, remember, we all feel safer with those that we know and trust.

Online activities have helped us all communicate during the pandemic, but as digital fatigue starts to creep in, and as you reach the point of thinking that you may have been on one too many video calls, you might like to consider the following number of important factors when planning any offline or hybrid communication or marketing activities for your business:

Keep in touch – we all have friends and family that we only see once or twice a year but that does not make them any less important to us, they “belong” to a certain place or time in our lives. The same is true in business, it is important to have a “place” in the minds of your clients and customers.

Whilst it may be tempting to bombard your clients and customers with emails or social medial posts, further fueling everyone’s digital fatigue, try to think about making a more personal connection. We may not be able to physically go and give one another a big hug at the moment, so consider a hybrid approach. A small physical gift could really help bridge the gap between that interpersonal touch and digital activity.

Sharing – “sharing is caring” is a well-known phrase and it is especially true in the business world. The knowledge that you have and gain in your working life is of great value. Producing content that shares thoughts, insights, and ideas can help inspire your clients, customers, and other business professionals. You don’t need to worry that what you say may have been said before (practically everything has) as it will be new to someone’s ears and they might be grateful you said it.

Be generous – “check your privilege”, a phrase I heard recently, and that really struck a chord. Full Square have luckily continued to be busy throughout the pandemic but it almost feels crass to say this when you know that people have lost their jobs or their businesses. We need to be mindful of the language that we now use in our communications. This is the time to put yourselves in the shoes of your clients and prospects and to offer support and solutions. It is also a sad fact that less disposable income for many means the reduction of charitable donations, so is there a local charity or group that you can support, engage with and positively promote yourself in partnership with?

I think it is also a good time to reach out to others in your own profession, can you help or team up with a competitor or associated business to offer a broader range of services to your existing clients? Collaboration and cross-fertilization across businesses can help you turn concepts into concrete actions and transform good ideas into great ones.

Be positive – the key to survival is most definitely all in the mind! Having a positive outlook and hopeful or aspirational messages in your marketing communications is vital if you want to succeed. Negative energy follows negative thoughts so please remember to be kind rather than critical. Always promote your best points, the genuine benefits of your products or services, and don’t just do it once. The first time you say something might not be heard, so say it again, and again. Consistent, positive reinforcement is always powerful, but I think now more than ever before. We are all looking for reassurance, continuity, and to feel safe – can you make your clients feel that way? They will love you if you can.

Your tribe – much is spoken about tribes nowadays but it is a simple fact that humans are social animals. Our relationships are fundamental to our levels of self-esteem and high levels of self-esteem are usually present in successful people. This is not, as my mother would have called it, about “showing off” either, it is about being confident, self-assured, honest, and respectable, all positive things. Having truly high self-esteem is not about being big-headed but big-hearted and is only possible if you believe it yourself. So, in your business, your messages need to be true – don’t over promise and under deliver.

As humans we are all function better together, we are not designed to be isolated. So networking is not just good for your business, it is good for you. We are currently in our third lockdown, and whilst it might be easy to think that life will never return to normal, now is a good time to make new connections and build for the future.

If you have a trade association or a peer-to-peer networking group you can join or a charity that you have an affinity with then I urge you to get involved.

I have spent 5 years running the
WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) network for Leicestershire and Rutland and now act as an ambassador for the organisation. We actively advocate for rural, small, and micro businesses, promoting the spirit and diversity of women in rural enterprises. I have also recently joined the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) on my 30th anniversary of being in the promotional gift industry.

I am also a very proud business supporter of
Leicester Charity Link a local organisation that helps people in dire need of financial support and refuge. I recently joined the business club of Lamp a very important charity in our region that offers advocacy and support to people in mental health crisis – this is an area that is very important to me personally. Ok, Mum, I’m not showing off, I’m making a point! You don’t have to be anyone special to DO something special. Your business doesn’t have to be a multi-national, award-winning brand, it just needs to be the best it can be. There is room for us all in this big old world and always room for us all to improve. That is what I love most about my job – working with others to achieve each little step, it is always about going forward and coming up with the next fun idea.

If you need help to devise your next promotion, to stand out, and make a difference then I would love to help out and share some ideas with you. To get in touch please email claire@fullsquare.net