Today’s economy is more competitive than ever. Take the recession and add in a little (or a lot) of social media plus a high unemployment rate and BOOM, we’ve got the perfect storm for business relevance.
In a recession, savings and value are more important to consumers than in flush times. The abundance of social media and information on the Internet gives these same consumers the opportunity to be more educated and discriminating about their purchases. High unemployment is pushing more and more people into business ownership, increasing the amount of competition in your industry.
As you work to succeed in this highly competitive environment, it is critical that you remain relevant. As consumers seek to gain information and knowledge before they buy, you must be seen as valuable and current. They have to be able to find you above the noise. They will find your competition – will they find you, too?
So, how can you stay relevant?
The first important aspect of relevance is to be sure you are out there. This takes several forms. The first is within your own business community. Being seen at events – networking, chamber, seminars and the like – helps others get to know you and identify you as someone who is relevant in your space.
Being seen online is also critical to gaining exposure and positioning yourself as an expert. Bear in mind that you can’t just be there; you have to participate effectively.
How you communicate with others is important as well–not only at events, but through social media channels, too. When you are at an event and are communicating about your company, clarity and brevity rule. You have to be able to share your value in as few words as possible. This shows that you truly know what you do for your clients, and exhibits a level of confidence others are looking for.
Being knowledgeable about your industry is important. However, talking endlessly about it is a killer. Going on and on about your business does not show people you are an expert. It shows them you are only interested in yourself. Build relationships with people and they will get to know you as an expert in your field. More importantly, they will want to do business with you or refer you to others because they like you.
The Internet gives you a multitude of channels to communicate and share your expertise. You can write articles, answer questions, comment on other people’s blogs, write your own blog and participate in communities. Sharing information without selling is a great way to remain relevant. Remember, people are looking for you online. When you participate online, they will find you and have the opportunity to get to know you in their own space.
Everyone loves a connector, helper, resource. As you build business relationships so that you have a lot of resources at your fingertips, you will be able to connect people. It isn’t enough to just know a lot of people. You should thoughtfully and intentionally work to help those people grow their businesses and solve their problems.
When you do this, people will want to connect with you. They will see you as someone who is well-connected (never a bad thing) and as a giver. Does this make you more relevant? It certainly does. Consider the difference between the person who is always out for themselves and the person who seems to always be connecting others. Don’t you like the connector better? Doesn’t he/she seem more professional? Connectors get more attention from others.
Facebook guru Mari Smith tells us to build a community around our business. When you share information through social media and build relationships in your business community, people will naturally want to be in your space. They will want to hear what you have to say. They will want to stay connected. This is how you become and remain relevant. Relevancy will lead to improved business relationships, and increased referrals and sales.