Your Network is Your Net Worth

By Gail Davis, an EO Dallas member and president of GDA Speakers.

Relationships are the name of my game when it comes to running a business. I own a speakers bureau, and I have information on more than 2,400 speakers at my disposal. However, I find myself booking the same 200 speakers over and over again. Why? I know them, I trust them and I’ve maintained healthy relationships with them.

When it comes to business, maintaining healthy relationships is critical to realizing goals. Because of the profession I am in, developing and supporting client relationships is a vital part of my livelihood. As my network has grown, I’ve made it a point to stay in touch with the people who are important to me and my company. Here is how I have done that.

Leverage Technology
Technology is a huge asset when it comes to effectively managing relationships. Having a customer relationship management (CRM) system, for example, is a must for me. Last year, I converted my CRM to —a Microsoft application—and learned everything I could about the system. I now understand who knows whom and how I was introduced to each contact. It also helps me keep an excellent trail of who has booked various speakers, making it easy to quickly obtain helpful referrals.

Keep Connecting Online
Like most people, I have a Facebook account, I’m LinkedIn … and yes, I even “tweet.” But my real relationships—the ones that have been the foundation for building my business—are based on old-fashion trust and shared experiences. Online tools serve as a convenient way to stay even more connected to my client base.

Mix Up the Medium
When it comes to working with my clientele, I try not to get into an e-mail or phone rut. I am very conscious to approach my communication with a mixture of phone calls, e-mails, hand-written notes, and believe it or not, an actual client visit or two. It’s all about staying personal and in touch with the people that are important to me and my business.

Stay on the Look-Out
When we visit different cities on business trips, I challenge everyone on my team to run a report and determine if there are any prospective clients in the region. This is an excellent opportunity to visit clients and potential clients face to face.

There’s an old adage that relationships are like plants. Sometimes you can ignore them and they start to dry up, but if you catch them and add water, they can come back to life. On the other hand, if you completely ignore the plants until they are dead, no amount of attention will bring them back to life. I have learned that with integrity, honesty, a strong work ethic and a system to ensure I stay in touch with clients, creating a reliable network is possible.

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