Business is like any other facet of life. It’s cyclical. Outside forces influence and drive trends just as in fashion and entertainment. While most of these trends and influences appear dressed in stylish robes of progress, some show up in vintage, repurposed threads that beg us to remember more comfortable times. This seems to be the growing trend in marketing and business development. Of course, no one is suggesting we shed the all-too-shiny accessories of technology, but maybe pair them with some retro relationship skills.
With today’s ever-advancing tech tools, social media frenzy, and unrelenting connectedness, we can isolate ourselves from the very thing that’s foundational in building new business—relationships. Strangely enough, millennials are the more willing proponents of breathing new life into getting real in business, and making it look totally cool in the process. Obviously, there are those out there who have never strayed from the handshake based business model, but have they married that with the customer-pleasing efficiency of technology? As usual, when new trends come up we tend to go all in, completely abandoning practices that might have been working for the promise of the unknown. You don’t have to step completely outside the box. It could just mean adding a window in it or maybe opening the lid.
Obviously, traditional “networking” is a relationship-building practice used to facilitate new conversations and open doors, but success in networking is completely dependent on the attitudes of the individuals involved. Trust me, I’ve hit more than most people’s share of networking events in my time, and they haven’t always been pretty. On occasion I have felt like an innocent little seal looking to make new friends that took a wrong turn and ended up in shark-infested waters. There’s a growing movement that just isn’t into that scene. There are those who feel their time would be better served sincerely reaching out to suppliers and potential clients, asking what they need to improve or grow their business before deciding if they are the right fit for them. It’s really a paradigm shift that begins at the cultural core of your company. That’s you, the owners, leaders, and influencers.
Business to business marketing surveys are exposing customer requests for more human connection, one-on-one interactions, and a willingness to build a mutually beneficial foundation for both companies to grow from. Obviously, this isn’t just a business practice. It speaks to individual integrity, an awareness to enjoy what you do for a living, and to meet needs before thinking of the bottom line. I’d like to be able to go out on a limb and say, maybe we’re seeing the demise of the “you need me more than I need you” and “hard sell” practices of the past, but, again, that depends on you.
In all my years in administration, sales, marketing, and business development, the best response I ever received from a “sales call” was when I rebuffed my client’s nervous rambling about what they could do for me and sincerely asked, “What do you need from me?” I have never seen a grown business man so close to tears. Through an honest act of human connection, opportunities may be realized for real growth. Case in point: one of this issue’s featured “Emerging Tech” companies, etailz, has built their entire business platform on balancing sincere supplier/customer relationships with the development of new technologies to most efficiently meet their needs. This has resulted in steady growth for all involved. And obviously, our 2015 B2B Award Winners have done something right to be nominated by peers and customers. See the entire list in our B2B feature.
Spokane is right in step with this trend. I am so proud of our business community for embracing a back-to-basics approach in building each other up so the entire region benefits. Wouldn’t it be nice if doing the right thing for your customers and suppliers was also the right thing for your company? We’re all in this together, so why not help each other out along the way? Trust me: there’s enough room.
Speaking of supporting each other, I was honored when asked to judge StartUp Weekend Spokane in November. It was inspiring to be in the same room with so many passionate, creative, and energized business minds. This area is truly busting at the seams with innovation and spirit. I’ve included in this issue information about StartUp Weekend Spokane and the incredible resources for entrepreneurs in our area.
I hope you enjoy reading about new and emerging technology, successes of veteran businesses, and stories of creativity and lessons learned along the way in this month’s issue. Thanks for reading.
— Robin Bishop
P.S. If you’d like to share about overcoming hurdles, celebrating wins, or know of new or expanding business in our area, please contact me. You can reach me at [email protected]