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One of the keys to success for many businesses is to create/promote a sense of belonging, of community, even if the business is far-flung and worldwide. We see this in “buy local” campaigns. We also see it in expansive chains such as Starbucks, which creates an atmosphere of the neighborhood coffee shop … even in busy airports. We see it when business people think to offer referrals, not just request them.

It works in small towns. It also works globally. The premise is that we enjoy working with people we know, people we like, and people with whom we feel comfortable. People we trust. It’s about the relationship, whether that person/business is down the road or down under, below the equator.

So, think small town and beyond the borders. It is an incredibly powerful attraction. No matter what our business or line of work, we all have neighbors and communities. Even in a global business environment, we live and work in a neighborhood. (If you doubt that, think about the connections we make on Facebook.) Most of all, we all want to do business with friends and friends of friends. So, you need consciously to build your community.

Locally, if you have one client who needs lawn care and another who owns a lawn-care business, put them in touch with each other. It is good for them and good for you. In other words, just as you ask for referrals from your clients, look for opportunities to give them as well.

Globally, if I have a friend/associate in Hong Kong who needs a reliable on-demand book publisher, and I have one I rely on that is located in Canada, I can and will make the referral.

Remember, what helps my neighbor helps me. Bonus: You end up working with a clientele of friends … and friends of friends. It is the sweetest way to do business. In fact, it doesn’t seem like business at all. Sure, you may never meet face to face. That doesn’t change anything. You’re global neighbors. So, work hard, make money … and have fun building a neighborhood of client-friends. — JRI

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