By Bryan Orr

The end of 2016 marked the last year I am going to be a tactical marketer.

I have spent 7 years learning about and dabbling in Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, podcasting, webinars, Youtube, Periscope and Facebook live.

If you asked me in the past I would repeat what I was told by some of the rock star marketers that I followed, “Content Is King” and smile. In fact, I said that exact thing at a mini conference I put on in 2014 in my hometown. A conference that almost nobody showed up to, a conference where I lost almost $4,000. Everyone said the content was great, the speakers were engaging, the food was late but it was good. Content wasn’t king, because nobody cared, and nobody cared because I ignored the REAL king for small businesses.

The Real King for Small Businesses: Relationships

The adage goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” but before they know how much you care they need to actually know YOU.

I was always looking for a way to “get” customers using the latest online tactics to attract eyes, but when I pulled together all those strategies for my little conference it was an EPIC FAIL.

What’s funny is that a few months later we held what was supposed to be a small workshop for a few customers and almost everyone we invited showed up. Less planning, worse food, boring content and great response. Why? Because the people we invited had a relationship with my business and me personally.

Without relationships your offers make little sense to people, without relationships your content is another glob of info floating around the Internet. Without relationships NOBODY CARES.

So how do you build more relationships?

I’m glad you asked.

Go Do Stuff

The Chamber of Commerce does not count. Go to community events, galas, dinners. No need to sponsor one, just buy a ticket and go. Talk to people, ask about them, remember their name; don’t just rush back from an event and connect on LinkedIn.

Don’t Make it Weird

Drop the agenda, stop pushing business cards, stop selling. Getting to know people is great and when you get to know people don’t shy away from doing business, but don’t try and push it before it’s time. Hint: If you don’t know the names of their kids and dog then it’s not time.

Join or Create a Local Business Support Group or Mastermind

Again: NOT the Chamber of Commerce, if it is like that then leave and start another one. No, it’s not a “referral group” or a place to get leads, snap out of it. You want a place where you can build real relationships with other business leaders where you speak openly about what’s going on in your business. A place where you have the time and space to build real and lasting relationships, not just a place to rub shoulders and hope it pays off.

Stop Being Impatient

Don’t get me wrong, online marketing is actually pretty cool for small business, it just pales in comparison to the business you will create by simply getting to know more people. It’s a long game and it takes time; the shortcuts that do exist often lead to regrets later (ask me about Twitter bombing).  

So, yes… you just read an entire article that can be summed up by the saying “It’s who you know.”

Well…

It’s mostly true, but even more important is Who Knows You.

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