As a small business owner, your business hinges on relationships. Relationships with other wedding professionals can lead to profitable referrals and joint ventures and relationships with bloggers and editors can lead to press mentions and features. It is important to maintain the relationships that you have with other wedding professionals and build more of them, but how do you build and maintain relationships when everyone is so busy all of the time? Easy, you use a system!
As with anything in business, you have to have a strategy for how you’re going to do things and when it comes to building relationships, I teach my clients to use my Spotlight Technique. Using this technique, my clients have gotten amazing results. One of them was invited to become a contributor to a very popular US-based wedding blog and got a feature in Brides Magazine, simply by using this technique.
Here is the idea behind it: You have to lead with being helpful. You can’t just email a random person and ask for something. One of the best ways to build a great relationship relationship is by offering to help the other person with something. You can do this by curating the content that your favourite wedding pros & bloggers are producing, thereby shining the spotlight on them and helping them to get it in front of more people. This is a lot simpler than it sounds and it will actually work to your advantage as well because you are sharing content your audience enjoys without having to constantly create it.
How To Use The Spotlight Technique
1. Go to your Twitter profile and create a private list called “Outreach” (You can go directly to your lists page by going to http://www.twitter.com/yourtwittername/lists) and start adding the people who you’d like to build relationships with to this list. Add anyone you want to work with, partner with, get to know and get referrals from or anything else to this list.
2. Sign up for a Hootsuite free account if you don’t already use it. This Hootsuite Quick Start Guide will show you how to add your Twitter account and add the new list you’ve created as a stream. This will make it so much easier to monitor what is happening not only on your new list, but throughout your entire Twitter account.
3. Sign up for Feedly and search for the people you added to your Twitter list. This will allow you to pull all their blogs together in one place so that if you don’t see them in the Twitter list, you can still share it.
4. Put a 15-30 minute block into your calendar every day for relationship nurturing. I put this into my Google Calendar so that it pops up everyday to remind me. Take this time to check your Feedly and Twitter list to see what your contacts have been up to. This part is key – this system is not going to work if you don’t take the time to actually use it.
5. If anything they have linked to, blogged about or tweeted about would appeal to your audience, share it. Make sure they know you have shared it by structuring your tweets like this:
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As you can see, I shortened the link in Hootsuite and mentioned the author of the content so that they know I shared it and enjoyed it. By doing this, I am actually endorsing them and putting them in front of a new audience. Hootsuite allows you to schedule updates as well so you can spread them out or you can use Buffer or Edgar to schedule.
This may sound like it would be too small of a gesture to matter, but you are helping your contacts build their audience by sharing their content with your audience. You are marketing for them and that is one of the nicest things you can do for a fellow business owner! If you do this on a regular basis, they will notice. Marketing is very frustrating for a lot of people and for someone to lend a hand like this goes a long way.
Can this really help nurture a relationship?
Yup! This strategy can be used to nurture existing relationships and build new ones. This is how I find a lot of my guest posting opportunities and a lot of podcast guests. My clients have used The Spotlight Technique to build partnerships with fellow wedding professionals and build a referral network, get featured on blog and get featured in magazines.
One of my clients used this technique and as a result, Bridal Musings approached her to write a series of posts on their blog as their resident cake expert! Most recently, Brides approached her and asked to feature her cakes. This stuff works!
Most people don’t lead with being helpful – doing that will set you apart! Building and maintaining relationships should more like farming than hunting. If you keep at this regularly, just like watering a plant everyday, you will reap the benefits later.