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“Networking is simply the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships. It works best, however, when emphasizing the “give” part.”

~ Bob Burg

Do you ever feel like there is a part of the business building puzzle that you just can’t seem to find. You know like the piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is invariably found covered in dust under the sofa, when you move house?

It can feel so frustrating to have so many of the pieces in place yet still not be making enough money to really feel like you can say this thing is working.

Of course when you find yourself in this place (and it is much more a case of when rather than if) it can feel very disheartening. Like everyone is in on some secret you haven’t been told yet. In several of my recent coaching sessions this question of the missing piece has come up and in this blog post I want to share with you what I believe that piece is.

Allow me to cut right to the chase — CONNECTION is for many business owners the missing piece when it comes to business success.

Yes I know. This isn’t news coming from me but It bears repeating again (and again) because it’s so easy to forget and get drawn into the idea that we should be focusing on promoting and selling ourselves rather than making meaningful connections with people. Even when people hear me talk about the importance of connection in business and agree that it’s makes perfect sense, rarely do they follow up with the very real action required to develop and deepen actual relationships with people in their audience and network.

And what does connection look like in practice? Simply put — it’s having conversations — the actual real-life sort!

Back in the day when I spent a LOT of money on an expensive Business Coach, one thing he drilled into me was the idea that no client was ever created outside of a conversation. So the goal of everything I did in my business was to have more conversations. And let’s just be very clear, conversations are not: posting on social media, commenting on other people’s posts, doing Instagram stories, making videos for YouTube, writing on Medium or blogging. Conversations are what happen after those things. They are what happen when we engage with another human being and say: Hey thanks for your comment on my post, I’d love to know more about how it impacted you, do you fancy hopping on a call? Or Thanks for sharing how you are struggling with this issue, I’d love to gift you a complimentary session for us to look at that?

In a recent coaching session with a newly qualified coach, we looked at what she was doing to grow her business and I was impressed to see that she was consistently putting out solid content to her audience and getting a lot of great engagement in return. What she couldn’t understand was how to take this engagement and transform it into paying clients.

The missing piece? Connection.

As we reviewed her Facebook page and looked through the comments people had left on her content, it quickly became clear to me that she wasn’t doing enough to deepen the relationships on an individual level. She was responding to the comments people left by saying thank you but she wasn’t trying to move the conversation forward beyond that.

When we seek to deepen the connection and engage in a more meaningful dialogue, it becomes more likely that an opportunity to serve the other person will arise. And when we genuinely serve the other person, we allow that person to see the potential impact of working with us.

Just this week someone left the following positive comment on one of my videos on YouTube:

Lovely interview, I was so engaged, the information was beneficial and relevant, thank you. Now I could have simply replied with something to the effect of thanks for your comment or not even replied at all as some people do, but instead I wrote the following: Thanks Lillian! I’m so glad you found the interview useful. Curious to know what your biggest take-away was?

Can you see the difference, now this lady may never reply but if she does and she shares with me why the video was impactful for her, then the chances of me being able to help her on a deeper level dramatically increase. And if I genuinely help her, the chances of her hiring me also increase.

People buy from people they know, like and trust and it’s said that it takes 7 touch points (interactions with your business) to create a deep enough connection to make a sale. In fact some experts predict this is now closer to 13, given how inundated we are by marketing messages across devices and platforms these days. Some examples of touch points could include, reading a blog post, seeing a FB ad, watching an Instagram story or receiving a marketing email.

But here’s the thing. Not all touch points are equal. Which do you think is more likely to be effective in creating a genuine connection — a cleverly crafted social media post that you blast out to hundreds or thousands of people or a direct and meaningful 1 to 1 conversation? In my mind it’s a no brainer and as well as being more effective at creating connection, it’s also a far more conscious, authentic and fun way to do business.

The problem I’ve found with this missing piece is that it’s so deceptively simple — sure people say, I can have more conversations but when it comes to doing the real work of outreach, people often underestimate the time, effort and energy it takes to be in a mode of connection. It requires you to take actions daily to reach out to people in your audience, to serve them powerfully and to deepen the relationship. But here’s the good news, whilst it may take effort, the rewards are plenty. To name just a few, if you prioritise connection in your business, you’re likely to have:

  • More collaborations,

So there you have it the missing piece that many business owners simply overlook when it comes to growing their business. Who could you reach out to today to be more connected in your business?