Marketing in and of itself builds credibility for your company and your role therein. Legitimacy is established. The base from which you navigate professional waters is created – the home from which your outreach occurs. Market perception is elevated through consistent, professional outbound marketing. As I’ve mentioned before, you may need to reorient your mindset to take full advantage of the opportunities marketing affords. (Check out our recent article: Perspective: How do you look at marketing?)
Yet… alone this is not enough. Your network is expanded through introductions, referrals, conversations with other professionals. Traditional event networking and “new” normalized video conferencing networking come into play. Your new introductions look you up online. They evaluate your company and brand. Almost certainly you will get a LinkedIn connection request. These new networking contacts begin to understand what you do. And they gain further insight into who you are. They interact with you – and your marketing content.
When you speak one-on-one with these individuals, your role is to listen – really listen. There may be a way you can help if you deem it appropriate.
In a world that is so heavily virtual, cultivating a successful market presence requires differentiation. The keys to differentiation take many shapes and forms – and admittedly, some are based on your product or services. But there is another element that only YOU can provide: authenticity. Your unique skills and experience, coupled with your intrinsic personality and gifts, attract prospective clients and customers when communicated well. If these aspects do not come through – humbly, I might add, in case you are prone to aggrandizing – you are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle that leads to the end goal.
And, for me, that end goal is always relationship. For many years I have admired the old timers in the industry, who have developed tight-knit relationships over the years. It took around 8 years to discover I could walk into a networking event without anxiety, because no matter what, someone I knew would be there. My network was big enough by then, my networking targeted enough, that I never felt alone. But it took leaving my comfortable in-house marketing job at a wonderful company and starting my own firm to discover the depth of relationships I had cultivated over time. The friendships remained, the affection my external colleagues and I had for one another transcended my company affiliation. I am so grateful for the reciprocal nature of authenticity.
You may structure your business development activities differently than I do, and your goals may be far more transactional. You may be looking for clients or customers, for short term partnerships. But if you are trying to cultivate real relationships with other business professionals, the kind that will serve you not only with business but more importantly with friendship throughout life’s seasons, I highly recommend this simple formula.
Marketing + Networking + Authenticity = Relationship