A strong business network has always been essential for entrepreneurial success.
While some may argue that social media and other tech has made our society less connected on a personal level than in the past, studies have actually found that social media doesn’t decrease someone’s likelihood of participating in face-to-face interactions with their peers.
For many people — myself included — social media serves as a helpful supplement to real-life relationships. In many ways the same is true of the relationship between AI and business networks. Tech is allowing people to do more with their relationships than was possible in the past.
Artificial intelligence can do much more than change our media landscape or automate certain business tasks; it could also be the key to unlocking the full potential of your business network.
Manage Your Contacts
“Dunbar’s number” is frequently brought up in discussions regarding personal networks. In a nutshell, anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s theory states that the average person can only have about 150 close, “stable” relationships.
The problem for business owners, of course, is that their contact lists tend to be — and often need to be — much bigger. If you can only mentally keep track of 150 people, it’s easy for large swaths of your network to slip through the cracks.
Just think of your hundreds of Facebook friends — how many of them would you really want to meet up with for a night out? How many would you call when you needed a favor? With business contacts, you might forget key personal information. Worse still, you might forget that contact entirely, missing out on the potential connections they could provide.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most common applications of AI is helping business owners manage their many contacts and use data to find new prospects. As SmallBizTrends’s Michael Guta shares, AI relationship tools can use “machine learning algorithms and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to connect and analyze external contacts such as advisors, partners, investors or mentors” so entrepreneurs can identify potential new business contacts.
He continues, “Based on the tenor of the conversations in emails, the number of meetings, and other factors [AI tools can] automatically show the connections with the strongest relationships to targeted prospects. You can then make a well-informed decision to identify opportunities for referrals and introductions.”
Show Your Appreciation
Showing appreciation is crucial in the business world, especially when it comes to retaining your top employees and your most valuable clients. For example, a survey by the American Psychological Association reports that “Nearly half of [employees] who say they do not feel valued report they intend to look for a new job in the next year.”
A client retention survey by the U.S. Small Business Administration found that “68 percent of clients leave because they perceive the business does not care for them.”
A little appreciation could lead to big financial benefits.
Thoughtful messages and gifts are a great way to show your appreciation — but finding time to pick and send gifts can be a challenge. Showing that you care and appreciate those in your network will be vital for long-term success — and AI can ensure that your gestures are well-received.
One example of a tool that can help you accomplish this is EvaBot, an AI tool that creates personalized gifts to match the recipient’s taste — no matter who it may be.
As Rabi Gupta explains, “Using AI to streamline your gift-giving to business connections is a prime example of enhancing real (and even personal) relationships with technology.”
Continues Gupta, “Choosing presents that are appropriate for a specific recipient can be tricky. Putting artificial intelligence to use in this arena means the giftee will be happy, and the gifter won’t spend too much valuable time on choosing and sourcing items.”
Current and prospective clients often get most of the focus in conversations about business networks. But your employees are also part of your network — and their productivity and brand loyalty will have a direct impact on your bottom line.
AI tools can have a wide range of applications, such as supporting your employees by automating the mundane, time-consuming tasks that keep them from performing their best work. As Forbes contributor Rumman Chowdhury writes, these applications can go even deeper by analyzing behaviors so employers can better motivate their team.
She explains, “For example, AI can analyze data including email communications, and biometric data and predict specific actions to improve team members sense of belonging or connection to activities. Sentiment analysis could also, for instance, be used to predict when an employee is getting bored by their work; the AI could then provide data-based recommendations on actions to boost the employee’s engagement levels.”
Use AI for a Better Network
Building a strong business network is something you will never be able to fully automate with technology. After all, those personal interactions with your clients and employees are the foundation for a strong relationship.
With the right AI tools, however, you can streamline these interactions and reduce some of the burden associated with building and maintaining a business network. The points I’ve mentioned today are only a small sample of how AI can transform the way you connect with clients, business partners, and employees.
By automating mundane network-related tasks, you will have more time for the one-on-one interactions that leave a strong lasting impression.