Lone rangers don’t last long in the business. To survive and sustain as an entrepreneur, you need meaningful connections with the right people.
When is the last time you had a casual catch-up with your business friends? I don’t mean a quick drink with your office mates on weekends, or a company New Year party; a real, live, focused event to mingle with business professionals.
For a budding agency in the UAE, it’s not much about what you know, it’s more about who you know. What you know is great. Sure. But there are plenty of advertisers who know a lot and are good at what they do but haven’t made much headway in business.
There are many smart people in the world. Myself included. However, to make real progress in business, it’s imperative to do sincere networking which is an enduring doctrine that can yield unexpected rewards. You have to put yourself out there and meet people who are playing at the highest level and connect with them.
Networking doesn’t end there. Each connection you make will connect you to a huge network that you can tap into, so if you encounter a link, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to pull the right string at the right time.
No Miracles In Closed Rooms
I strongly believe in creative work and powerful campaigns, but the bottom line is, being just creative or great at what you do isn’t enough to hook a client or grow in the business, it is equally important to bring your ideas out of meeting rooms and laptops and share with the right people who can help you to be more visible among the droves of agencies pitching for the contract. But, be cautious, networking may backfire as well in case you don’t deliver the quality work. So, we need to be creative as well as well-connected to grow.
Never Ignore Existing Business Contacts
You simply mustn’t take your eye off the ball or ignore the potential of your existing customers in fetching you more contracts. They’re the people you’ve already won over, established a relationship with and know very well.
When you deliver the right thing to a client, you build a sense of trust and your relationship with the client goes beyond professional terms. Walt Disney rightly said: “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
Most of the people treat their business contacts differently than personal friends. Just think for a moment about the people with whom we are professionally connected and who are also our close friends. Aren’t they more helpful and understanding as compared to the ones who are connected to us just professionally?
This is an undeniable benefit of meeting people and networking. As a small business, word of mouth is a reliable and cost-effective way to grow. Usually, referrals are given by existing customers who are happy with your work. Really, a referral is one of the best compliments a customer can give.
Referred customers are also more loyal and their possibility to stay longer is 16 percent higher –– according to researchers at Wharton and Goethe University. Referred customers are usually less price sensitive, since they usually come to your business with a sense of trust and credibility.
So, in short, you get much higher quality leads with the help of networking as compared to the leads you get from marketing.
Connected To Be ‘In The Know’
How many times have you heard about a potential new project through a friend? The grapevine is a robust communication channel. By building your contacts, you not only have a better chance of knowing what’s going on in the market, but you are also more likely to be remembered when one of your contacts needs the services that you offer.
Meeting and learning about other people will broaden your outlook and help you to develop skills and knowledge that would make you more interesting to the people.
The Arab Advantage
I’ve been running a creative agency in the UAE for more than 10 years now, and through my personal experience, I can say that being an Arab has always given me an extra privilege over others in this country in terms of getting contracts. I always had the advantage of being able to easily connect with the Arabs who are usually the decision-makers in government entities and other reputed organizations.
Be it UAE or any other country, common language always strikes a chord of bonding in business relationships. When we speak the same language as our client, we have a common understanding of precisely what we mean and what’s expected.
Finally, opening yourself to establish new relationships also opens the door to serendipity. Nobody can predict the future. Sometimes life just happens, and in case you aren’t participating, you’ll miss out if there is an opportunity. You never know with whom you’re going to meet and how they can help you in business until you’ve met them.
For these and many other reasons, everyone can benefit from developing their softer side and learning to form real and long-lasting connections.