How to Leverage Everyday Relationships to Build Your Business This Year

Jennifer Brown Banks

Social Media is often touted as the only way for entrepreneurs and freelance writers to connect with people across the globe, in an effort to land gigs, garner interviews, build a fan/customer base and cultivate big book deals.

Which is particularly disheartening for those of us who lack the time, ability to schmooze, or the comfort level of engaging in small talk with strangers to “work” a virtual room on an ongoing basis.

Though no one can deny that social media can be an effective tool to promote our work and elevate our platforms, there are other, (often overlooked) ways that are simpler and less time consuming to maintain.

But before I reveal them, let’s examine why relationships in general are as important to your bottom line as a writer and entrepreneur, as your talent.

  • People like to do business with those whom they like and trust. Plain and simple. Think about your relationships with service providers. You’ve no doubt chosen your hairdresser, babysitter, accountant, tech guy, realtor, etc. because you feel comfortable with them and confident in their ability.
  • In a tough economy, good relationships become even more crucial. In addition to price points, how well you treat others and your customer service approach gives you a competitive edge.
  • Successful relationships serve as the best form of advertising. Whether it’s one that you cultivate with an editor, fellow blogger, or product users; it often leads to referrals, repeat sales and repeat assignments.
In her book, “The Personal Touch,” Terrie Williams, author and public relations expert underscores the principle of building good relationships and shares, “Understand that your relationship with people has as much to do with your success as all your professional knowledge--maybe even more. The ability to relate successfully with people turns contacts into contracts!”

Here’s another bonus: the less client turnover, (the happier they are), the less time and money you have to spend in marketing and bringing in new business, to replace former income levels.

Check out these examples of “new business” that can be cultivated from your everyday dealings and associations:

Blog Followers and Commenters

Sometimes business leads can be found right in your blog “backyard.” Hello? The good thing here is that followers already dig your work and likely believe you have the skills and expertise that could potentially benefit them, or they wouldn’t be following your Blog. True? Which is why it’s important to always respond to readers’ comments in a helpful, timely and truthful fashion. You just never know who could end up as a future client or customer. I can attest. My blog readers have hired me for everything from setting up their blogs, to creating Editorial Calendars, to creative consultations.

Guest Posts and Fellow Bloggers

Blogging has an array of benefits. But perhaps the most advantageous are the fellow writers and readers encountered from every region of the world; this can result in fruitful friendships and foster mutual support. Particularly when we exchange links and guest posts. These associations, in turn, can lead to tomorrow's collaborative projects and business ventures.

Suppliers and Vendors

A few years ago, I met a guy in my area, that I hired to troubleshoot my computer problems and to purchase supplies for my home office. Besides being a really nice guy that allowed me flexible payment terms and makes house calls, he’s also a small business owner.

Which means that he required some of the same services that I provide for big businesses, not- for- profit corporations, and fellow writers. He’s hired me to do editing work for resumes that he provides his customers, compose business letters on his behalf, and I’ve even set-up blogs for some of his clients. Sometimes we even barter services. It’s a win/win for us both.

Don't be afraid to approach those within your creative circle with your products and services, if you sincerely feel it will enhance them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right?

Final Thought

Learn to “work smarter, not harder” by nurturing and valuing your current relationships and informal encounters.

Social media is not the only way to “win friends and influence people” and make money in today's business environment.

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Veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, thought leader, herbal tea enthusiast. My mission is to entertain, engage and inform readers with articles that are interesting, enriching and diverse.

Chicago, IL

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