Any business, no matter what it is you do, needs to market themselves.

Many people may assume that marketing means selling, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

To YHB, marketing means relationships – building them, maintaining them, and growing them. Because after all, people do business with people that they know, like, and trust.

But how does one build relationships with other businesses – owners, employees, CEOs and CFOs?

That’s what we as a firm were finding out yesterday, as we hosted our first-ever Firm Development Day. We brought in experts on the topic, Jeff Nicely, Director of Business Development for the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber, and Guy Gage, owner of PartnersCoach®, a coaching and consulting firm to professionals in private practice.


firmdevdayThe day began with an engaging and inspiring talk by Jeff Nicely, who shared his story of how he moved to Winchester years ago, not knowing anyone at all, starting over in a brand-new insurance selling business of his own. How does one become successful in a commission-only business selling a product, when you don’t know a soul? How do you even begin to build relationships when this is where you have to start?

Jeff’s message was a good one for all professionals, no matter what industry you work in. He recounted how he Googled, “Where do business leaders in Winchester go?” and up popped the “Top of Virginia Regional Chamber”. Not knowing what exactly what a chamber of commerce was, he did some research and joined. However, he still had the problem of how do you meet people and how do you build relationships?

He did his homework. It took some time, but he was willing to invest his time and energy so that he could be successful, understanding that success would not come overnight.

He read many, many books on the topics of networking and marketing, and has applied those principles to his business. And those principles were all about building relationships – not selling.

Some of the big takeaways from his talk included the Top 7 Questions to Ask at a networking event – whether it’s a chamber mixer, community event, gala, or even a board meeting. Potential relationships are all around you – and you never know the potential until you talk to that person.

Here are Jeff’s 7 Questions:

  1. How did you get involved in ____________ industry?
  2. What do you most like about the work you do now?
  3. What do you find most challenging about your work?
  4. What is the biggest opportunity facing your business today?
  5. What do you feel is most needed to make your business more successful?
  6. What sets you a part from your competition?
  7. Describe your ideal client so that I know who to refer to you?

The big idea is to not make the conversation about yourself – make it about the other person. But you have to be genuine and truly have an interest. If you are genuine in your discussions with people, relationships will grow and eventually, they’ll come to know, like and trust you – and hopefully will do business with you.

He had several books to recommend as well which follow the philosophy of relationship building, not selling:

“Think and Grow Rich”  Napoleon Hill

“Eat, Drink and Succeed”  Laura Schwartz

“Endless Referrals”   Bob Burg

“Purple Cow”  Seth Godin