A few years back I remember listening to a female business owner share her success story. She said something that has stuck with me for over 10 years.


She said “People do business with people, not businesses. Build and maintain your relationships with your customers, suppliers and teams, these are the people who will help you succeed.” At that moment my sales strategy for my own business changed drastically. I was so over cold calling and decided to build a real network and team for my business. I changed my approach and started going to more networking events. It’s pretty daunting walking into a room full of people and you don’t know anyone, but this is a great way to meet people. You are forced to talk to strangers, so you don’t look like the outcast in the corner.

I have met most of my clients, business partners and suppliers at various networking events. Networking gives you the opportunity to really show them who you are. It’s so much more memorable than a cold call.

Business development strategies and tactics have changed dramatically since we had our first global epidemic. Today, successful business development is contingent upon building trusted relationships and leveraging those relationships to meet new potential customers. These relationships form the backbone of your business network. It is vital that you continuously grow and nurture these relationships, as a large percentage of your business growth will come from your business network.

Here are five ways to build and leverage your business network to grow your business.

  1. Always Seek Referrals
    Your customers almost certainly know colleagues like themselves who need your product or service. It is perfectly acceptable to ask them for a referral and request permission to use their name for an introduction. With a referred contact in hand and a trusted customer as back up, you can then make your telephone call or send an email to gain an introduction. Once your prospect hears or sees the name of his or her colleague, you will have a much greater chance of success in your introductory contact.
  2. Use Testimonials
    Your customers are your most important advocates. Ask them if they would be willing to provide a testimonial about your product or service. They most likely will agree because they want you and your business to succeed, particularly because it reinforces their decision to use your product or service.
  3. Participate in Industry Meetings
    Believe it or not, face-to-face meetings are not dead. Participating in industry meetings, conferences, and tradeshows is a great way to nurture relationships with colleagues, network, and meet new people. If your industry has a national trade association, join it and participate in their meetings. If your product or service is used locally, join your area’s Chamber of Commerce and attend their meetings. Because it is costly to attend meetings, maximize the impact of attending by attempting to set up one-on-one meetings in advance and identify other ways to increase your participation and visibility at the meeting: look for speaking opportunities, sponsor a coffee break, or organize an educational workshop.
  4. Blog
    Everybody seems to have one or is talking about creating one, and for good reason. Publishing a personal blog on your company website is a great way for your customers and prospects to get to know you, your business philosophy, and your company, products, and services.
  5. Be Social
    Grow your business network by using social media sites and apps, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and online networking communities. However, before you jump into social media, you need to fully understand the medium, how it works, and how you can use it to benefit your business. LinkedIn is a great place to start and grow your business network.

Using a combination of tried-and-true business development tactics along with new social media strategies, your business network will grow, as will your company.