As a growing business owner are you getting caught in the hyper competitive market environment? When you work alone it is often difficult to fulfill all the roles you have to play. So how do you stay competitive? I often harp on the importance of staying focused to the high priority, high payoff areas of the business, but when you are doing it all, everything seems “high priority”. But being in business means staying connected to the people who do business with you as well as the people who refer business to you.

There are three areas that can help you stay connected. To stand out in your market there needs to be a level of interaction that you consistently put forth; developing a personal brand answers to this idea of connecting. Your customers want to know who you are; remember the more they know about you, the more they can feel a sense of trust. One of my clients sends out her marketing material with a cartoon like theme of the “royal family” and fun pictures of her staff and her daughter. When people stop by her shop, it reflects the message she wants to get out, we are a fun place, and fun people to do business with, come and see! Your materials, behavior and connection with your audience help build your brand. Connect by being “real” to them reveal the person they want to know.

Another area for connecting is in your networking. I am not talking about going into a group and handing out business cards. I am referring here to meeting regularly with advocates who refer business to you. It requires “reaching them with information that matters to them” and having some real interest in developing the relationship. Ask them about themselves so that you can better support them with articles, events that may be of interest or people they need to meet. One of my clients who markets merchant services wanted some information for a prospective client to solidify the relationship. I was able to connect him with someone who works in that segment of the business. His prospect is now his client, because he was willing to take the time to research it and I got to go out to lunch.

Connecting with your customers requires some new approaches. Your web site will not create any significant prospect attraction for the person who has never met you, says Robert Krumroy, in his book, Brilliant Strategies and Fatal Blunders. His prediction that personal contact with customers will be solely through the interactive Internet and only businesses that adopt Internet technology as part of their marketing strategies will be able to survive in the coming years. Using e-mail as a means to keep connected will keep you ahead of the competition, and help you build on going relationships with customers. The information you send out becomes information they can pass along to others, you stay connected and so do they.

Challenge: Check yourself. How have you stayed connected lately? How have you promoted your personal brand, showed interest in your advocates or sent your clients and customers something that kept you in front of them? If something has worked for you, let us know, we’d like to print your story.