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An active social media strategy is not for every entrepreneur. Some people struggle with natural introversion. Other business owners lack the available time necessary for social media to be effective for their business (no doubt, it can be a black hole time suck). And others are not quite sure where to start…so they don’t start at all.

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If you haven’t figured out how to get social media to work for your business, guess what? It is ok! You don’t have to do social media to have a successful business. You don’t have to dance around on TikTok. You don’t have to bad-lip-sync to random phrases on Instagram. And you don’t have to squeeze into yoga pants sharing videos about “five ways to grow on social media.” Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a social media strategy for your business. But you do need a relationship strategy.

Your Business Needs a Relationship Strategy

At the heart of it, social media is just a relationship strategy for the 2000’s and it happens works great for business too. In fact, relationship-focused business has been working for decades. As the old cliché goes, “People do business with people they know, like and trust.” Social media is an easy way to connect with new people, help them like you and grow to trust you.

“Know-Like-Trust” – all of these are immensely critical for your business to succeed. But social media is not the only way to achieve them. My agency success all happened prior to the impact that social media has had on business. We seemed to get along just fine without it and like mine, your creative business can be successful without a social media strategy. However, I believe that you cannot be successful without a relationship strategy.

Relationship Strategies for Your Business

Here are a few different ways to practice “non-social media relationship strategies” in your business. Each of these can help your clients and potential clients know you, like you, and trust you.

Face to Face Meetings: To some people this may seem “old school” but I can almost guarantee that nothing will help you close more deals than meeting people face to face. No other relationship strategy can possibly capture the relationship magic that happens in the small talk before and after face to face meetings with clients and potential clients. Take every opportunity you can to meet with people, let them look in your eyes and see how wonderful you are. Your business will thank you through a steady stream of repeat clients and referrals to new business.

Networking Groups: Another “old school” strategy that works is business networking groups. Most cities (and even small towns) have some sort of business networking group (oftentimes run by a Chamber of Commerce). Your city wants you to do business with other people in your area. It is good for the local economy, your business and the businesses of others. “People do business with people they know, like and trust,” so starting getting to “know” more people.

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Industry Groups: Most cities have industry organizations that help you meet other people who do the same things you do. Look for groups like AIGA and the American Advertising Federation as well as others that may be popular in your specific city and/or country. Meeting people within your industry will be a gateway to both client opportunities and support that you can’t find anywhere else.

Online Communities: Are you living in a really small town or remote location? No networking or industry groups to join? Get involved in some online communities and build relationships there. (I know, I know, these are supposed to be “non-social media” strategies, but I’m going to treat online communities as something a bit different from “posting on social media.”) For example, if you want to do brand identity design for restaurants? Get involved in an online community of restaurant owners and start meeting people.

Drip Marketing: Build your own community by creating a valuable lead magnet. Then drip market to your own community of people. This can be an extremely effective way to build relationships with people. (For example, many of you subscribed (the community) to my newsletter (the drip marketing) by downloading one of my free resources (the lead magnet). Through this mechanism, you get to know me, hopefully grow to like me and ideally I earn your trust over time. You can do the exact same thing for your targeted business relationships.

Social Media Is Not the Only Relationship Marketing Tool

Let’s close with a few final thoughts on social media. There is no doubt that social media can be a super effective way to market your business, but only because it is satisfying your “know-like-trust” marketing need. However, as I mentioned early, it is not the only way to get to know people, get them to like you and earn their trust. In fact, I would argue that it probably isn’t even the most effective way.

I’ve built all my businesses with a “one client relationship at a time.” Get to know people through whichever method works best for you…like really know them by showing genuine interest in their business success and lives…one person at a time. Your business will build a strong foundation and yield fruits for years to come.

If social media isn’t “your thing” for relationship building, then pick “some thing” because your business cannot be successful without a relationship building strategy.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.