Networking is a magical exchange of value between one individual and another.  Over the course of the past week, I’ve been fortunate enough to sit down with some amazing professionals in various industries across the greater Chicago area and converse with them about what’s working, what’s not working and what we can do for each other to boost both business and the bottom line.  I’ve come to the realization throughout this experience that really only 4 things matter when it comes to sustainable business growth.

Relationships.

They are the backbone of business and without them a company/organization ceases to exist.  Networking is essential to the growth of your net worth.  Of the 13 individuals I sat down with, each conversation lasting between 2 to 4 hours, I recognized how amazing each individual was, how much potential they had, how much value they were adding to the Chicago community and how that was impacting communities around the world. Each of these relationships was formed over a period of time, starting from a simple connection on social media, to a phone conversation, to later meeting each individual in person.  These relationships, whether I’ve personally reached out or we were connected through a mutual friend, have been vital to both my own growth and the growth of my business.  The most successful individuals grow their network so that when a problem arises, they have immediate access to the solution, allowing it to consume less time, less money and causing less stressed.  This fundamental key to success sets individuals and organizations apart.

Product.

The product is the most essential element to a successful business.  But a product not packaged and positioned properly will always fail no matter how great it is.  Learning to sell a product isn’t difficult.  Learning to position your product with simplicity leads to greater quantity of sales in a smaller period of time.  Regardless of what the product is, what its value in the marketplace is, or how much it costs, one thing remains the same: it has to appeal to consumers’ emotions, or it won’t sell.  When consumers have an emotional attachment to your product or service, nothing else matters.  What I mean is this: let’s say, for example, you go to buy an ADT Security System–it isn’t the system you’re buying, it’s the emotion of security and peace of mind.  The same is true for all things in life; it isn’t what you’re selling, but our emotional attachment to that product or service that we, as consumers, are purchasing.

Processes.

Each of us is a slave to convenience.  If the phone is not charged, we leave the house when it is.  If our gym bag is not packed, we won’t go to the gym.  When we’re in the store, we buy what’s convenient, not necessarily what’s healthy.  If we make the process for both ourselves and our consumers simple, easy, and convenient, our ROI automatically and dramatically increases.

People.

There is no bigger asset to an organization than its people.  People are everything.  If you don’t take care of your people, they won’t take care of you.  Employees, contractors, and commissioned sales people are no longer just looking to hold a position within an organization; they are looking to lead, help, encourage, and set the tone of the organization’s future.  They want to be involved in decision making, have leeway on projects, be directed and guided–but not told what to do–while at the same time having flexibility when it comes to choosing their schedule.  Providing these small benefits can make a world of difference.

These 4 elements are present in every successful business, and they should be present in yours.  Learning how to build relationships, position your product, systematize your processes and take care of your people will help you build a solid foundation for long-term sustainable growth within your organization.

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Featured photo credit: Group of Friends with Tablet PCvia Shutterstock

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