Tag Archives: Business relationships

Relationship Building in the Digital Age

18 Jun

Monday, June 18, 2012

To follow up with the series “It’s All About Relationships”, I wanted to offer some tips on forming relationships in the digital age. As you know, networking is vastly different than it was even 5 years ago. With the explosion in popularity and efficiency of social media, most networking is done via these platforms. You have the opportunity to build relationships every day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Are you taking advantage of these interactions? What follows are a few tips for each of the popular social media platforms to making connections and building relationships that last. 

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools online. It has a more professional environment than Facebook and Twitter.

  • Join groups that are applicable to your industry and/or interests.
  • Within those groups, post relevant and original content.
  • See who is connected to your the people in your network and ask for an introduction if you think it would benefit both of you.
  • Comment regularly on articles with intelligent responses or arguments.

Facebook
Though you can be more relaxed on Facebook than on LinkedIn, it’s still an opportunity to impress. 

  • Post regularly. That means something different to every company or individual so research the best days and times to do so.
  • Photos and videos draw people in more than words.
  • Dare to have a little fun by offering anecdotes, polls, trivia, etc.
  • Don’t oversell. Use it as a platform for a message.

Twitter

  • If you’re not using @ in your tweets, you’re probably missing opportunities to connect. Even just a ‘thank you for following, @…’ can go a long way.
  • Consistency is the key. Create a queue with tools like Tweue or Timely to make your program more efficient.

Pinterest

  • Post pictures that stir an emotional response.
  • Categorize pictures so they’re easier to look through and repin.

Blogging

  • Consider asking a guest blogger to write an article or series. You’ll automatically have a wider network.
  • A good headline to a post will get 5 times more readership than the article itself!
  • Comment regularly — and strategically — on other blog’s posts. (Follow the link for some really great tips.)

The Bottom Line:[Relationships are]… a collaborative bond, fostered via meaningful and well-timed communications and recognition.” 

Your turn: How do you network online? Which platform do you find most effective?

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It’s All About Relationships Part 3 – The Proposal

22 May

Monday, May 21, 2012

In the same way that most people wouldn’t accept marriage proposal on the first date, most people will be turned off if you propose a request for a sponsorship or donation without first getting to know your potential donor. We’ve already talked about aligning yourself with the right type of donor and from there nurturing the relationship. Now it’s time to propose. “The ask”, I would venture to say, takes the most tact of all. Not only does it have to be well-timed, but it needs to be carefully crafted and impeccably precise.

Before the Proposal
There’s still a little more prep work to be done before you can ask. Now that you understand that people get involved with organizations because of some emotional need and since you’ve identified this purpose, you need to write your pitch. Why not pitch with a great story? Mark Rovner, of Sea Change Strategies, says that

“[t]here is no more sure fire way to engage someone emotionally than through dramatic stories.”

Want to write a really great story? Here are 4 steps from Katya Andresen – an awesome non-profit bloogger/expert and author of Robin Hood Marketing – to ensure you do just that:

    1. Include a relatable character, someone that your potential donor can identify with. “What unites us all are the trials and tribulations of being human.”
    2. Don’t be afraid to use conflict; in fact, it’s encouraged and will express the humanity
    3. Who/what is your villain? There is always an antagonist in every great story. Maybe it’s poverty or lack of funding for arthritis research. Whatever it is, bring it out into thd open.
    4. Tap into emotional responses by using detail words that conjure a response from one of the sense.
“…the best stories are the ones in which we see ourselves: ‘It is our ability to imagine ourselves in story’s circumstances that makes stories work.'”

The Proposal
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting and rehearsing for. The ask is all about connecting on a real, human level. While planning on how you’re going to propose, always consider the emotional impact of their donation whether it be money, time or in-kind. You’ll also need to determine when the best time is to propose. The setting will determine when to ask. If you’re hosting a fundraising event, consider doing your program with the ask before the meal. If it’s a one-on-one meeting, wait for cues in the conversation or from the person. But whatever the setting, be strategic about when you are going to pop the question.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and to the point, but don’t sacrifice impact. (30 seconds is all you really need.)
  • Remember your audience and their higher purpose and speak to that end.
  • Rehearse your story so it sounds real and uncontrived.
  • Always speak from the heart to convey your passion.
  • A genuine ‘thank you’ goes a long way. 
Your turn: What do you feel is the best time to make “the ask” during a fundraising dinner? How do you propose to a potential business sponsor? Please share some of your experiences in the “Comments” section below. Thanks!

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[For more on amazing storytelling, check out Katya’s blog.] 

It’s All About Relationships Part 2: Courtship

10 May

Thursday, May 10, 2012   

Business connections, as in all relationships, require a great deal of effort. Once you’ve found Mr. Right, it’s time to follow up and nurture the budding relationship. A relationship that is not tended to will definitely become a missed opportunity. 

The First Date

Now it’s time to go on your first date with your ideal mate (read: donor/constituent/customer). This can be done over the phone, but ideally it will be in person for a more intimate approach. It’s all about the donor; the only information you should give about your organization is in response to their questions. You will use your “first date” as a get-to-know-you session:

  • What are their likes and interests?
  • What about them makes them a perfect fit for your organization?  
  • Where are they in the involvement funnel (i.e. What is their availability? In what ways are they interested in participating?)
  • What are their needs are expectations from this involvement? 
  • How does your organization’s mission fulfill a need that they have?

Courtship

If all goes well, your first date will blossom into a beautiful courtship. But first you have to follow up after the first date. It doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Instead use it as an opportunity to demonstrate another dimension of your organization’s brand. (Every orgnization has a brand promise to fulfill. This goes for non-profits as well.) The first follow up should simply be a personal phone call or note expressing gratitude and appreciation for their time and interest. 

Continue to nurture the relationship with regular communication. Get them on your mailing list(s) and/or send a personalized e-mail here and there to check in. [Caveat: Always, always ask permission before including someone new on your mailing list.]  There’s no need to be pushy. At this point, you’re still getting to know the person and introducing your organization. Consider the following ideas:

  • E-newsletters
  • Social media engagement
  • Blog follows and responses
  • Invitations to signature events

Things to remember about this stage: a) maintain regular communication and b) do not ask…yet!!
Up next week is “The Proposal” and there will be lots of good stuff about “the ask” so stay tuned. 

Your turn: How do you court potential donors/constituents? Do you find that when you follow up, you get a better rate of participation/response? I’d love to hear your comments.

Please let me know what you thought of this article. Thanks!

 

Related Posts:
It’s All About Relationships Part 1 – Meeting Mr./Miss Right

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