Expand your business network BYLINE: ARUNDI VENKAYYA COX
DATE: March 15, 2009
PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)
SECTION: Business PAGE: C1
Want a low- or nocost way to help grow your business? Start expanding your network now.
Relationship building is crucial to helping a company during an economic downturn, said Susie Weaver, owner of Mousaian Oriental Rugs. Weaver and her husband, Paul, own the company that sells, cleans and repairs handmade Oriental rugs.
"Our relationships will carry us through difficult times," she said.
While there are people who will continue to buy Oriental rugs, the company's service business is especially valuable now, she said.
Oriental rugs carry a mystique and people assume they are going to spend a lot of money to buy them, she said. Weaver spends a lot of time educating potential customers about Oriental rugs, which allows her to develop strong relationships. She realizes her products can stay in a family for generations.
"We have tons of repeat customers," said Weaver, who attributes those returning customers to strong relationships. "I'm not just selling a rug. I will go to their home and advise them on decorating."
So, what should a business know about building relationships?
Get back to basics, said Chuck Vella, senior vice president and manager of the Dayton office of Edward Howard, a public relations firm.
"One of those basics is the cultivation of strong relationships — and trust is the root of good relationships," he said. "We are keenly aware that both business people and consumers want to work with someone they trust, someone who will take their interests to heart. Anything less is simply a 'transaction.' "
Vella suggests these tips for building relationships:
• Keep information you receive closely guarded, even if you're not asked to do so.
• Act as a convener or referral source for others. People will remember the connection you fostered.
• Use social networking sites but don't let them take over. "There's no substitute for face-to-face dialogue to build and maintain relationships," Vella said.
And, Weaver added, always be available to your customers — on the telephone, Internet or in person.
Copyright, 2009, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.