There are many reasons a business might need to build, manage and leverage their contacts. They may want to expand their database of potential clients, attract new referral partners, build strategic partnerships, identify vendors or attract people to various events.
The specific needs of the business will dictate how they build and manage their contacts.
Once you determine the types of contacts you are targeting, there are different ways to reach them. Options to consider may include attending networking events, trade shows, facilitating a workshop, adding an opt-in feature on your website, sending a periodic newsletter, using a pay-per-click campaign, leveraging social media channels or picking up the phone. You may need to do different things to build various contact groups.
Once you gather your contacts, there are many ways to leverage them. Each segment of contacts may have a different strategy for leveraging. The important thing to remember is what’s in it for them? Why would they allow you to leverage them? Design a program that is beneficial for both of you.
Could you partner up with another organization to co-host an event? If each of you promote the event to your respective databases, both of you will make new connections. In addition, the event will be more successful and it will take less time and energy compared to doing it on your own.
Or, consider collaborating with related service providers to organize an industry-specific newsletter. For example, an HVAC shop could partner with a handyman, roofing contractor, electrician, architect, interior designer, etc. Each partner writes an educational piece that highlights their area of expertise. All of the contributors then share the newsletter with their database of connections and via social media channels. This could increase exposure exponentially for everyone involved.
If you are going to spend the time and energy expanding your connections, you might as well manage and leverage them as best you can.