Tossing Rings on Bottles – Starting Business Relationships

[tweet2download file=”How-to-Build-and-Nurture-Relationships-wordcarnival-august-ebook.pdf” tweet=”I just got a FREE ebook on building biz relationships at http://eadesign.me/?p=1245″ follow=”@graphicsbyevan,@stellaanokam” /][tweet2downloadhtml]biz relationships ebook[/tweet2downloadhtml]
[/tweet2download]On the last Wednesday of each month, Word Chef invites 10-12 top notch small business bloggers to contribute posts on a similar topic. August’s is “Business Relationships: Starting, Nurturing, and Ending Them”.
UPDATE! Fellow WordCarnival carnie Stella Anokam compiled all of this month’s articles into one ebook! Get it now, for the bargain basement price of a tweet 😉 (Click on the book image to the left)


We keep this up, and there might be an “Everything I needed to know about Social-Media/Marketing/Business/Relationships I learned from Carnival Games” poster in the works… i took this photo at the Ventura County Fair earlier this month, and i think there’s more business marketing wisdom in it than we might think at first glance, particularly about starting and nurturing business relationships:ring-a-bottle-carnival-game

< announcervoice > …and for my next analogy, “bottles” represent potential new relationships or business contacts, and “rings” represent your marketing and communication tools and efforts! < /announcervoice >


If we can leave aside the implication that the field of potential clients is a passive bunch of identical figures that must be lassoed, then we can dissect this sign one phrase at a time.

20 Rings, $2.00

This hints at the multitude of communication and relationship-building tools that are available to us these days often at little to no cost. Some rings for the tossing:

1. blogging 2. tweeting 3. facebook…ing
4. sending an email newsletter 5. having a telephone conversation 6. having a face-to-face meeting
7. creating a video 8. having a presence at a conference or trade show 9. sponsoring an event
10. speaking at an event 11. writing an article 12. having a video chat

What would you add? Tell us in the Comments!

13. 14. 15.
16. 17. 18.
19. 20.

Must Throw One Ring At A Time, No Leaning

Business relationships are started by being present and genuine in all of your communications. That means you don’t take your handful of rings and just toss them all out at once and hope for the best. [You might actually get super-lucky and ring some this way, but i suggest that they’ll be fewer in number and lower in quality] Every ring you toss is calculated and focused as best you can, and you’re looking directly at a specific bottle as you release it…ever heard the phrases “target audience” or “ideal client”? But even though you’re focusing, maintain a professional distance both with your person and your message…don’t get too close too fast, or be overbearing: NO LEANING.

Ring One Bottle Wins Choice

So you’re tossing out all these rings, a lot of them might be misses (or feel that way, as evidenced by the persistent “into the ether” syndrome), some might dangle on an edge, but then – huzzah! – that finely fitted ring slips smoothly over that clean bottle neck. In our analogy, you’ve made specific contact with a new client; you’ve started a new relationship. What have you won?!

Well, an opportunity, mostly. Maybe this contact means paid work right away, and that’d be the most obvious “win”, but beyond that you’ve won the opportunity to nurture and grow the relationship, and to duplicate your success by using your successfully-implemented skills to ring more new bottles.

1 Prize Per Player Per Day

The implication here is not to expect to walk away from a Twitter session with an armload of stuffed toys that vaguely resemble familiar characters. The result of your genuine and calculated efforts may result in fewer new relationships at a time, but the ones you get will be high quality. Of course, it’s actually possible to come away with several new relationships at a time, but i said not to EXPECT it. That way you’re not disappointed if that doesn’t happen, and appreciate the bottles you DO ring all the more.

bottle ring toss gamei hope that feels helpful! This blog post is a ring, and if you’d like to be my newest bottle, flick your scrolling finger back up to the top: my email address and phone number are always in the header! i look forward to nurturing a relationship with you. For much more and greater wisdom on the topic of Starting, Nurturing, and Ending Business Relationships, click back over to Word Chef’s Blog Carnival page and explore! (and join our Twitter Party on Thurs Sept 1, 4-5pm PST…i’m giving away ONE FREE HOUR of graphic design!)

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20 Responses to Tossing Rings on Bottles – Starting Business Relationships

  1. Yes! Quality not quantity. There are so many people out there obsessed with the numbers: how many fans, friends, followers, et al do I have? I need more, more, MORE! But they miss the point. SALES! And that only happens when you take the time to meet people one-on-one and build real interactions. Hey! People everywhere are interesting. If we just take the time (one at a time) to get to know each other, we’ll be a lot better off in the end!

  2. Pingback: Starting Business Relationships – Blog Carnival – Ring Toss … | How to Make Out

  3. Ivana Taylor says:

    I love it when analogies are fun and useful. There is so much wisdom out there. My favorite point is that you don’t walk away from any session with a handful of toys. Social media has a way of making it seem that because it’s fun, easy and deals with communicating with larger groups of people, you’re going to walk away with a million dollars worth of business after a session. That isn’t the case at all. Business is still done the old fashioned way – people to people. The technology makes this easier, but it’s not the only solution.

  4. So very true, we can’t just throw it up in the air and hope it lands, even though there are days that I feel that that is happening without my knowledge. Nurturing, growing, being present is natural for most of us and it takes time. We have to be patient, of service and willing to put efforts in building relationship regardless of the method we utilize. Great post!

  5. I won this really top-drawer flat iron from a Facebook contest recently. The thing retails for $200 and is typically sold to salons – we’re not talking the $19.99 Walgreen’s special, OK? And that was awesome enough. (I mean, honestly – it’s the curse of the curly-haired.) Anyhoodles, the box came yesterday – and I was STUNNED. I mean this thing was stuffed to the gills. Beautifully packaged with a white silk rose, smaller tea-rose sachets, a primo carrying case and heatproof mat, PLUS little silk pouches filled with stuff that wasn’t directly related to flat irons but WAS carefully crafted to appeal to the person who would have wanted that flat iron: pocket emery boards, hand sanitizer, full-size liquid eyeliner, lipstick, and a gorgeous pink-and-white satin eyemask with the company’s logo embroidered (not painted or stenciled!) on it. This? Is AWESOME bottle-tossing. All I can think of since that box arrived (besides how freakin’ fabulous my hair looks — no, I mean it REALLY looks good) is “What would the comparative packaging be for MY business? Or this other business? Or that client’s business? What would that look like for purely digital goods + services?” Bottle RINGED, baby. Seriously ringed. ‘Cause what I’m gonna do now is write a glowing, raving review of the iron + the goodies on my personal site and link to it on that company’s Facebook page. How much would any of us pay to get THAT kind of reaction? Something to chew on while we wait our turns at the ring toss game … (but no way in Hades are you gettin’ me on that “Guess Your Age” game…)

    • evan says:

      Annie, first of all congrats on that mega-win!! What an awesome story, and superb way to think about “packaging” our services. I’m so grateful to be connected to your wisdom.

  6. SandyMc says:

    You are a natural Annie, the company who sent you that fabulous win, does not know how well and truly their ring fell on the bottle, as you will do an awesome job at spreading the word. I want photos!

    Great analogy Evan, especially the tossing multiple rings, crossing all fingers and toes that the phone would ring the next day with hoards of new potentials clamouring for your services. And they never did. Still it was kind of tempting. You felt it just had to work. But it never did.

    Comes down to persistence doesn’t it. Or targeted persistence. Just find one bottle and keep aiming. Then try another when you’ve succeeded with the first, but only when you are sure the ring is well and truly in place.

    Here are three more for your list. Create a targeted LinkedIn Group – you can email your members once a week. Check out everyone’s profile who asks you to join them in LinkedIn. See what you might have to offer of value in terms of a validation of their business offer, or appraisal of their brand, website etc and if they are in your local town, when they reply (and they often do) suggest a coffee. Go to local networking events and write to 3 or 4 of those you really took the time to ask questions of and to whom your service would add value.

  7. I like the analogy of the process of building business relationships (likened) to tossing rings on bottles at carnivals. I agree that there’s need to be calculating and targeted at where to fish for business friends else the time, efforts and cost of “hitting many rings on worthless bottless” or relationships that may never, ever convert to anything BUT instead suck so much out of one. Thanks for this fun tutorial, Evan:)

    • evan says:

      Thanks so much, Stella! i know my advice isn’t super “deep” (i’m still learning so much!), but i do love when analogies work and are fun.

  8. 13. Build an Event
    14. Organize a MeetUp
    15. Attend a MeetUp and make new connections
    16. Build an eLearning program
    17. Partner on a blogging project

    Great article Evan!

  9. Trevor says:

    I was going to say giveaways and contests are great attractors as well, the person with the flat iron is a good testament to that. As far as quality over quantity goes- of course, but for my site we want quantity. With quantity should come enough quality for me (gotta get some interaction from readers), but overall our type of site survives off advertising. Which is basically what you’re doing here with the social networks, no? Targeted ads work the best, and it makes sense.

    You wouldn’t want to try and sell feminine hygiene products on Spike TV (although strangely according to demo #’s SyFy would be a good place for that). Likewise peddling Girls Gone Wild videos on Lifetime would be pointless (for some reason I really want to see them try tho, The Golden Girls is where I’d start. Grannies Gone Wild?). Knowing your audience is key.

    Great post evan, I’ll have to stop by the Twitter talk or conference call if you’re doing this at the end of September.

    • evan says:

      Yeah Trevor, thanks for investing the time to respond! i have a new client who wants to try some contests and giveaways, so that’s a fun new realm to consider. Nothing wrong with quantity either…in fact, promotions and other strategies sometimes only work – or work best – if there’s an audience of sufficient size to receive it. The top item in Dan Zarella’s “Hierarchy of Contagiousness” is EXPOSURE, meaning that for your idea to catch on as many people as possible need to be exposed to it. So having a large following is key, and as long as you don’t sacrifice quality of content, you’re golden.

      Definitely get on the tweetchat and/or call with us at the end of Sept! You’re savvy and have a lot to offer.

  10. Pingback: Business Relationships: How to Start Them, Nurture Them or End Them - The Word Chef

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  12. Karly says:

    This is an interesting way of thinking about things but there is one comment I wanted to add, if you are going to be throwing rings on bottles then each bottle that you ring would require the same level of effort however the tweeeting and phoning are much quicker to do than the article writing! I would stick with the easier and less involved methods where they work.
    Karly recently posted..Best Internet TV SoftwareMy Profile

  13. Leonard Evenson says:

    Hey, what a nice parallel! It really shows your creative side. I’ve been meaning to get in touch and tell you how nice it is of you to share all your advice and help others find their way in the internet marketing world. It looks easy reading your tips and also metaphoric articles, like this one, but we all know it is tougher because there are actually many factors that influence a starting-out entrepreneur’s success. I am speaking from my own experience. I have an online business as well, and I am outsourcing some of the work to people who work outside my office (apartment) because it is better for all of us, and it comes out cheaper in the end for everyone. I am using this free employee monitor software to keep an eye on them during their working hours. I might sound content now, but I also started small and had to work hard and scrape the money together to make it this far and have my own employees, even if there are only a few of them. I hope your readers read your other posts as well, to get the bigger picture of online business making.

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