If you’re looking at the video thinking, “That’s not Liz.” You’re right!

In talking effective business development, once we get past the process of leveraging their business certifications, the thing I talk about most with my clients is getting to know their potential customers. They have a plan and a list of a few good clients for them. Then they have to go out and do the relationship building that actually makes those business development plans meaningful. That involves meeting people, providing value, getting to know them, and eventually being seen as well-liked and trusted resource. Some people don’t believe it’s that easy; some don’t believe it has to be that hard.

Both are right.

Getting to know people is as easy or difficult as life makes it. There are billions of search results that tell you how to do it right. What is less defined is how do you actually stay in touch? How do you get to the next step?

Diversity Masterminds alums will not be surprised to hear me say that social media is one great way to stay in touch. That can be setting up an email alert for your target company, following them on twitter or connecting with someone on LinkedIn. The seemingly small and, let’s face it, obvious ways to connect are actually helpful. They offer the chance to congratulate someone on an award they won and if you pay attention, you can start to see what makes them tick.

But, because not everyone will believe me, I give you Kate Weaver, Supplier Diversity at Nestl (above). She can not only tell you why she’s looking for diverse suppliers but also drops some golden nuggets on how to build a relationship with her.

I am posting the video above for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s not me! As a consultant, I know how valuable it is for people to hear things from different voices. As my clients say, “I can tell my team something a million times. But then I bring someone else in to say it and they really listen.” So don’t listen to me, listen to Kate!
  2. Kate is truly a supplier diversity rock star and advocate. She posts on LinkedIn when she finds a diverse supplier to do business with, when she CAN’T find a diverse supplier, and just engaging ways for you to get to know her.
  3. You’ll see what you can expect and what not to expect from this kind of keeping in touch. It’s a way to stay in touch but certainly not THE ONLY way.

Business development and relationships isn’t a linear process. It’s not “Follow on Linkedin>Congratulate>Contract.” It’s longer term and often more frustrating than that. When I talk about “getting to know” someone, the video gives a good example of what I mean. Following them on social media will not tell you what their corporate procurement mandates are, you won’t get a list of goods and services they are purchasing next year, but it gives you some insight into the people behind the processes. It’s just that easy and just that hard.