The disruption caused by the coronavirus is profound and far reaching. Effects may vary a bit by industry or location. But one thing we’re all experiencing together is the challenge –and opportunity– of staying connected. It is a reminder that we’re all connected and that our relationships matter even more.
To thrive in sales uncertainty and build relationships of lasting value, one tool in your toolkit stands out above the rest. Social capital.
Social capital is the collective value of our relationships, and the win-win results we create through them. It may not be on your company’s P&L statements, but it is one of the most important things we can be investing in, especially right now.
When we focus on our social capital strategically and the relationships that we’re building, it serves us well in times of uncertainty. When we invest in social capital and build relationships, we have an opportunity to create value and outcomes that are a win on all sides. It’s a win for us as an organization. It’s a win for teams. It’s also a win for our customers.
This article is adapted from a webinar I co-hosted with Bill Fournet, Founder & CEO of The Persimmon Group. I share four ways we can build social capital in uncertain times, and emerge even stronger on the other side of the crisis. These are strategies that you can employ yourself, with your teams, and with your organization.
Proactively connect with your teams and customers.
This is a time to step forward. Review your pipeline and reach out to your prospects and customers. Learn what is happening in their companies and consider ways you can help. Your industry and the industries you serve will determine your approach. For example, if you are in banking or healthcare, your offerings may be in high demand. But know that some prospects and clients may not be in a position for conversations, because of their market situation. You may need to find a future time to connect. When you take the position of service and relationship building, they’ll remember you when they are able to move forward.
Establish genuine thought leadership.
If social media is a tool that you use regularly, it’s your opportunity to continue using your voice. Be sensitive and smart with it, but don’t shy away from it. Can you share white papers? Can you share articles? Can you share helpful resources? Especially if you are someone in a client- facing role, this is an opportunity to engage and continue your genuine thought leadership presence. Take advantage of interactive opportunities, too, like podcasts, live videos, or webinars. Find the right niche where you can share content that’s specific to helping your audience, positions you well, and reminds your network that you’re here for them.
Connect with your centers of influence and strategic partners.
Centers of influence and strategic partners are my top source of building relationships. They are network multipliers, because they are often well-connected themselves and also value relationships. A center of influence is a person or organization that provides an environment for you to build strategic relationships. A strategic partner is an individual or organization where you may offer complementary services to similar client bases. Who are your strongest centers of influence and strategic partners right now? How might you be able to serve them? Where might you be able to partner with them to serve your customers?
Be a sounding board and a leader people want to follow.
Your prospects, customers, and partners are trying to find their way in new and uncertain territory. It’s an opportunity for you to be a leader that they would like to follow. It’s your opportunity to be a sounding board for them. I recently offered to several of my top clients a month of advisory services at no fee, so they would have someone to call for outside perspective. This outside perspective can help bring ideas, solutions, and connections to light.
In any uncertain time, it’s our role to be a source of confidence, trust, and ideas for our customers. Social capital can be the tool that helps you. The relationships that you invest in will determine the value you create together.
If you’re looking for more tips on strategic relationships and social capital, download a free copy of a chapter from my book, The Modern Seller: A Modern Seller is Social.