Building relationships with individuals is something we do all the time. We may all do it a little differently, but it comes fairly naturally. When you are talking with someone face-to-face, or having a phone conversation, the process is familiar. There is a dialogue between people. You can ask questions, respond to their reactions, and communicate through a back-and-forth conversation.
Most of us don’t need help or strategies to build relationships with one person at a time. However, to build a business faster, you have to build relationships with many more people. And at a certain point, it becomes impossible to have individual conversations with every single one of them. There just isn’t enough time in the day!
But, building relationships with large numbers of people who may be interested in your business isn’t like having a conversation. There are different strategies that you must use to communicate with groups of people, and cause them to feel connected to you, to trust you, and to engage with you and your business.
When I started listing out all the strategies for large group communication, I realized that they really fall into two broad categories: writing and speaking. These skills are critical for any entrepreneur or business owner who wants to expand their pool of prospects and get more customers and clients.
Let’s take a look at these two skills and how you can use them.
Writing for groups
Writing for groups can take many forms. You could be writing a blog article, an e-mail newsletter, a letter that goes out in the mail in large numbers, an article for publication, etc. The point is that you are writing, not to one individual, but to a broader audience.
In this area, it is important to know, at least in general, who you are writing to. Who is your target audience? What kind of reader will be interested in what you have to say? It is impossible to write to “everyone” and be successful at building relationships.
When you know your reader, you can write in a similar way that you would talk to an individual. You can anticipate their questions and reactions, and address them in your writing. Then they feel as though you know them, and they are drawn in and begin to feel connected to you as well.
Of course, the quality of writing is also important. Writing for groups means composing something like you learned in school. It needs to have a beginning, middle and end. It has to have a point and not bore the reader.
Writing is a skill that improves with practice. My own writing abilities changed dramatically when my family spent a year in Switzerland. I started a blog to let our friends and family know what we were experiencing. And in the process of writing 1-3 times per week, I honed the skills that it takes to write consistently.
My recommendation is that you set aside at least 1 hour per week to write something. I don’t mean e-mails to individuals, which you do all day! I mean a piece of content (around 500 words) that can be posted, or sent or shared with a group of people. (You don’t have to share it right away. But you must write in order to improve your skills.)
Speaking to groups
The other way to communicate with large groups of people is through speaking. Speaking could mean giving a talk or presentation to a room full of people, speaking at a large event, or speaking to a video camera or audio recorder that can be posted online or broadcast to large numbers of people.
Just as with writing, speaking to a group is different than talking to an individual. But, by using the same strategy as above, you can connect to your audience by knowing something about them, and sharing something about yourself.
Aside from the content, public speaking has it’s own set of skills. How to hold your body, how to speak clearly, even how to just be comfortable standing in front of a group or a camera. And, just like with writing, these skills only improve with practice.
Use of technology
I want to mention a third skill that is necessary to build relationships with large groups. It is the ability to use technology to post, publish, and send your content out to the right groups of people. By itself, the technology doesn’t do you any good. But, once you have written something or recorded yourself speaking, the technology is critical in getting it seen or heard.
This is really the crux of content marketing. Putting out content is how you build relationships, and it requires the skills of writing and speaking. So, start honing your skills today.
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Sarah Schwab is the Founder and President of My Client Communications. She helps small businesses attract more clients online, especially those who struggle with technology or design. Find out more about her approach to online marketing, including the one thing you must have in place to convert website visitors into paying clients, in her F.R.E.E. report: “5 Steps to Attracting More Clients Online.” Get your report today at