The key to keeping your business thriving is to develop revenue generating relationships. So how do you build such relationships? First, you must understand what revenue generating relationships are. “Revenue generating business relationships, when they work and work well, come in three primary forms. Think of it as a pyramid, starting with a strong foundation of referrals. To build this foundation of referrals, the partners in the revenue relationship must have a good understanding of the other’s value proposition and believe in the messaging so that they are comfortable referring business to each other,” explains Coach and Small Business Expert Lisa Baker-King of LBK Kreatives.
Okay now, let’s get started. You will want to target certain companies and individuals who you think would be great to help boost your business. “The first step is to do your research on an individual or company that you would like to do business or establish a relationship with. Besides a company’s website or an individual’s Facebook page, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to do your research. You can find out what organizations individuals are associated with as well as other pertinent data and information,” explains Taryn Brown of Taryn Brown + Company, a Dallas-based marketing company that specializes in African-American consumer marketing and communications.
Also, network, network, network. “Do high level networking by attending and sponsoring chamber of commerce and trade association events. I always take advantage of sponsorship levels that at least get me into the ‘VIP’ section. You want to strategically place yourself at private receptions before the main event. I have been able to meet some of the top business people in the country by using this strategy,” offers Brown.
But you don’t have to always dole out a lot of cash to make the right connections. “If sponsorships are cost prohibited, consider aligning with other small businesses and pool resources to pay for tables at events, etc. What most small African-American businesses don’t know, sponsorships are a great vehicle for name recognition and visibility that makes it easier for your company to do business or build relationships. You can still do power networking by just attending an event luncheon or dinner. The $75 or $150 is worth the cost of admission. Don’t rule out attending local government city council meetings. It’s a great way to meet the mayor of your city and other business people. All major economic projects must be approved by local government entities. Best of all, it will cost you nothing,” suggests Brown.
Do the follow up. “Once you have established the relationships, it’s perfectly okay to ask an individual to lunch,” says Brown.
Think about affiliate marketing. “Once the revenue relationship has built this foundation and with it, trust, it may be time to formalize the relationship by becoming ‘affiliates’. Affiliate marketing can be very powerful and many e-marketing or shopping cart programs offer automated affiliate marketing programs,” says small business certified coach Lisa Baker-King. “This is where your business gets paid a commission (it can be one time or residual income), when the product or service is purchased.”
Seek out partnerships that will complement your business and not compete with it. “Look for businesses that complement, not compete, with yours. Seek out business owners that are willing to commit to the relationship. If you find yourself reaching out all the time without returned calls or emails, they are not committed,” notes Baker-King. “Don’t over-complicate the relationship, especially in the beginning. Setting too many rules and guiding principles will scare off a potential relationship. Once you move up the pyramid, you will need some stronger guidelines. But not at first. Let the relationship evolve organically.”