Managing Business Relationships in an Online World
Ilan Nachmani, VP Sales at Karamba, sheds light on business relationships in the igaming industry.
Business relationships include all connections and communications between a business and internal and external entities. The most obvious relationships a company needs to foster are internally with its employees, and externally with its customers. However, there are many relationships that lead to the ultimate success of a company.
Benefits of building relationships with business partners and affiliates include the transfer of high-quality information, new ideas, complimentary skills and industry knowledge.
More and more companies are seeking to focus on their core strengths and outsource several aspects of their business to external companies. This means that a company needs to remain in contact and build relationships with an ever-increasing number of important entities.
History of Business Relationships
Relationships used to be somewhat geographically limited, but the online world is allowing enterprises the opportunity of doing business in more and more ways.
Business Relationship have evolved dramatically over time. Centuries ago trade was done over great geographical regions. It was a slow process and a single transaction may have taken months or years. It may even have included sending camels on journeys of thousands of kilometres carrying gold.
More recently in the 1980s and 1990s, the saturation of the personal computer in the workplace led to the development of database marketing. Companies were now able to collect vast amounts of information about their clients, competitors and business partners. Initially this created a win-lose paradigm. The more information a company had, the more power they had.
In the last decade, however, information has become so readily available that the power has shifted. The only way a company can succeed in the current climate is to offer something in return. The focus has moved from transaction to interaction.
Business Relationships Online
The business world is changing dramatically, new skills are needed to deal with the growing use of the Internet and social media. One of the most important skills is being able to transfer the ability to build relationships in the real world to the online world.
There are now a reported 1.5 billion social media users globally, making the line between personal and professional relationships more blurred. As a result, each member of an organisation becomes a representative of the brand.
All successful relationships are based on trust, co-operation, friendship and two-way communication. It is essential that communication online is not only one-way. Corporations need to create a two-way dialogue.
Relationships and online gaming
In the context of online gaming, there are many ways that igaming companies can build relationships with their business partners. One of the most important relationships for online gaming is the relationship with affiliates.
Without the ability to form this relationship with your affiliates, one cannot succeed in this line of business. It is no longer as simple as merely buying media or keywords. Success is reliant on personal relationships.
A good way to create this sort of relationship is to stick with your affiliates. For example, one of your affiliates might consistently rank on the first page of a Google search. However, Google modifies their algorithms on a regular basis. A new algorithm can change Google rankings. After a change this top ranking affiliate might drop down to a third page ranking. If you stick with your affiliates during their hard times they will remember when they climb back up to the on top. This is a true win-win relationship.
Even with the best use of social media and other online tools it is essential that online gaming companies get ‘facetime’ at least a few times a year with their most important affiliates.
An excellent networking opportunity for affiliates and igaming companies alike are the different affiliate conferences held throughout the year. The three biggest conferences are all organised by iGB Affiliates. They are the London Affiliate Conference (LAC), the Berlin Affiliate Conference (BAC) and the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference (AAC). The atmosphere of all events is energetic and open, making it easy to build relationships amongst the more than 4,000 delegates. In typical online gaming style, there are also a number of post exhibition parties to allow for even more relationship building.
To build a truly sustainable business relationship, it is often essential to get even more facetime than that offered by the iGB affiliate events. For one thing the more than 4000 affiliates can lead to information overload. So it is important to follow-up on any leads that may have been picked up at the conference.
If geographical distances are an obstacle, another important tool at the disposal of any company is video conferencing.
Tips for Building Relationships in an Online World
In the absence of physical space there are certain ways to still communicate approachability, warmth and professionalism.
- Get to know your prospective business partner: With access to information being more readily available, clever organisations are getting to know all of their stakeholders better. To stand out from the crowd it really helps to add a personal touch. For example, make a note of local holidays, names of family members and favourite sports teams. If it comes up naturally in a conversation at a later date, it will show you listened.
- Make sure social media communication is two-way: don’t rely too heavily on your own status updates. Take a genuine interest in your partners’ status updates; re-tweet their content and if relevant, endorse them on LinkedIn.
- Create a win-win relationship: If you really want to get someone’s attention, have something to offer them first. Truly profitable business relationships are reciprocal.
- Use all communication channels: Relationships are built over time. Don’t rely too heavily on social media. Well timed communication can be more personal and effective. One caveat though: any phone call, email or personal meeting must offer something relevant to both parties. Wasting someone’s time will have the opposite effect on a business relationship and will most likely push them in another direction.
- Focus your energy: It can be much more beneficial and efficient to build relationships with valuable partners. Do your research. And remember 80% of your business will most likely come from 20% of your partners. Make sure that they receive the relevant encouragement.
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