One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is building relationships is marketing.
And in my opinion, relationship building is the most important marketing task in growing a successful freelance business.
Building relationships is marketing
When I look at my freelance writing business trajectory, there’s a clear connection between my steps forward and the relationships I’ve formed.
Whether it’s an introduction, a referral, advice, support or instruction, we don’t operate in a vacuum. We rely on others to belay us. They anchor us and help us climb higher.
Without relationships, our progress is much slower.
If you want to build a successful business, you need to focus on building relationships with three key audiences: your customers, influencers and your competitors.Entrepreneur.com
I like how this article breaks the different types of relationships with key audiences into these three categories. Customers, influencers and competitors.
Clients and potential clients
First of all, treat other people like human beings. Don’t look at your clients or prospects with dollar signs in your eyes—look at them as comrades on this life journey.
Try and see below the surface.
- What are some things they’re struggling with?
- What are their deepest needs?
- How can you help them?
When we treat others like a means to an end you may have a successful transaction but it may not lead to more or ongoing work.
Fruitful partnerships come from the foundation of a strong relationship. You don’t need to be best friends, but there should be trust, love and acceptance.
Extra reading: Get Your Freelance Business Noticed
I listened to a podcast about professional jealousy and it made me think about how easy it is to compare ourselves and our careers to others’.
If we look at the heavyweights in our arenas as superhumans who we’ll never measure up to then we’ll never work up the courage to build relationships with them, let alone dare to get into the ring.
Influencers have power and, well, influence. Imagine if you had mutually-beneficial relationships with these influencers and an opportunity came up.
Like, oh, I don’t know, a potential book deal? A big client pitch? Or an introduction to an editor?
Now imagine how powerful it would be if they put in a good word for you. Or lent their support. Or made the introduction.
Stop thinking small and get in the ring. Build authentic relationships, find ways to be helpful and refuse to be intimidated by those who are further down the path.
Extra reading: Literary Citizenship and Why the Writing Industry Needs It
Competitors and colleagues
No matter the industry, there will always be other businesses offering similar services or products to what you offer. You can choose to view these other business owners as threats or as comrades.
The first approach uses a scarcity mindset, believing there are winners and loseres and business is a fight to win.
The second approach uses an abundance mindset, believing that there is enough work to go around and that each business brings a new unique perspective to the industry.
Extra reading: Network with Freelancers to Grow Your Business
To me, one of the most important marketing tasks I invest in is building relationships. Nothing else in my business moves the needle forward like honest and authenic relationships with clients, influencers and colleages.
Sure, it means I have to trust people. And yes it’s possible they won’t have the same approach. But I choose to believe there are more people like me out there than not.
One more thought, by approaching my business in this way I believe I attract likeminded individuals and repel those who aren’t like me. And I’m good with that.
Pin for later: Building relationships is marketing
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