Relationships - The First Key to being a "R.E.A.L." Success
In just a few months I'll be celebrating the four year anniversary of my business... given that it's so close to the beginning of the year, it seems fitting to think about my resolutions for my business in 2015 as well as the one's that I try to set for my business anniversary. This year, I've decided to combine them into one set of goals. And they're all about being a R.E.A.L. Success.
I recently saw an acronym for the word "real:"
I decided that those were the four areas that I would focus on for 2015... in my business and in my personal life. But here, I'd like to talk about business and this month I'm going to reflect on Relationships. When I started my business, I depended a lot on the relationships that I'd built in my three years selling print advertising for a regional magazine. A few of the businesses that had been my clients at the magazine, became my clients when I started DFA Creative. They knew me, they trusted me and they wanted to support me as I gave it a go on my own. . . I don't think I ever even pitched them, they just volunteered to come on board. It was nice to have people come on board.
But, during that first year, I fell into a trap, I got caught in my bubble and wasn't really out in the community building new relationships. About 18 months into my business, I made financial commitment to join the local Chamber of Commerce. More than that though, I made a time commitment. If I was going to pay what was a substantial amount of money to be a part of an organization, I was going to be an active, involved and engaged member of that organization. I began going to ribbon cuttings and Business After Hours and before I knew it, I was building relationships with other small business owners right in my community. Some of those relationships turned into clients and some of them turned into folks that I felt really good about referring other folks to. And a few of them became my confidants and support system — peers that I could turn to for advice or just an empathetic ear when I needed it.
After a few months of attending Chamber events, I was invited to participate in a networking/referral group and to serve on a volunteer committee of Chamber Ambassadors — a group that mentors new Chamber members. One thing was consistent, I kept building relationships. And, just like when I worked at the magazine and left to start my own business, some of the people that I built relationships with became my clients. My volunteer role with the Chamber has continued to grow, but so has the number of relationships I have with business owners, gate keepers and key influencers in the community. Not every one of those relationships has turned into a client — and I wouldn't want it to — but I've built a lot of great relationships and I know relationships are a two-way street... you give and you get. Getting a referral from someone that I've built a relationship with is great, but giving a referral to someone that I've built a relationship with and trust is an even better feeling.
I'm looking forward to building new relationships and nurturing existing ones in 2015! How about you?