I had an interesting meeting yesterday. This woman is starting her own company and she came in to meet with a company I’m doing some work with. Her concept is a company that’s all about connections — connecting people with each other with her as the connector. So far she’s been hired to recruit an entire staff to manage and operate a socialite’s various homes and estates, put together a philanthropic symposium for a retailing/manufacturing giant, and now she’s in the middle of creating a very high level art exhibit for a country (yes, country) that will show in the U.S.
How did she get this idea for her business? She worked for a number of celebrities so her rolodex is full of contacts – from all the assistants for other celebrities right through to celebrities themselves (and we’re talking major celebrities). All of those people in turn connected her to socialites who connected her to captains of business and so on. This person gets her work through one marketing channel — connections.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
As I thought back on the meeting, two things struck me as key takeaways that are applicable to any business:
1. Go for it! This woman had an idea and she’s flushing it out, quite sure that there’s some type of business model out there. Is your business model the right model or the best model? Don’t be afraid to shake it up. If you’re only having mediocre success, is it because of the merchandise you’re selling, the location you’re in, or is it something deeper? Take a good look inward and figure it out. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself – adapt if it’s not as successful as you want it to be.
2. Connect! The old adage, “He (or she) who has the most friends wins”. How are you connecting? How are you connecting to and with your vendors and forming partnerships with them vs. a buyer/seller relationship? How are you connecting to and with your employees and creating a team that’s head and shoulders above the rest of retailing? How are you connecting to and with other retailers in your general shopping district to generate awareness and positive word of mouth? How are you connecting to and with the business community?
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to generate new customers and sales. Think about it. Your best friend recommends you try a new restaurant or that you should check out a new store. You’re more apt to do it simply because of the personal endorsement. And friends are only one circle of influence.
You can have a personal circle of influence, a business circle, a community circle and more. And all of them are interlocked with you as the center point. That’s a pretty powerful network that can really help turn on the business.
So get going – start making connections. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings. Take part in your neighborhood association. Get on the board of your shopping district’s marketing committee. Volunteer for a charity organization. Anything you can do to extend your circle of influence will help build your business.