Communication is key in any successful relationship, even online, says Saam Ali

In order to strike up a relationship in the first place, we have to communicate with the other party in some way, and to strengthen the relationship, we have to continue communicating. This is how trust is built, and in terms of business is one of the most important factors for success.

The success of a local pharmacy is built around the community in its area. We’re communicating and building relationships with our customers and patients all the time in the pharmacy but how do we communicate with those important businesses and organisations around us? Do we have a good relationship with them, or any relationship at all? Understanding that time is a major limiting factor in the pharmacy, how can we begin to build and continue a relationship with them over time? I believe the easiest and most efficient way

is through social media. Let me explain with some examples and theories using three of the biggest social networks there are.

Facebook

Facebook is the perfect tool for relationship building. Most local businesses now own a Facebook page where you
have the ability to message that local business directly, at any time. This is a great way to initiate a relationship. All you need to do to find those businesses is type your locality in the search bar at the top and then select “pages”.

When you click on one of these businesses, locate the “messenger” feature on their page and simply introduce yourself (if you haven’t already). Never try to sell anything in your first few messages, otherwise, you’ll simply be seen as a spammer.

Another thing you can do, which can prove to be powerful, is to create a group on Facebook. Facebook groups are excellent ways to build virtual communities in your area and can really help with communication. I have began to experiment with Facebook groups for one of my clients which is proving useful. Every week, I spend 15 minutes inviting relevant people into the group and I’m slowly building up the numbers there. By creating such a group, we’ll be able to communicate much more quickly with each other and this is automatically strengthening relationships between everyone in the community.

Instagram

Instagram, although increasing in popularity, is still an untouched social channel in the community pharmacy world but is excellent for reaching outto influencers and businesses close to you. You can type your location using the search bar at the top and navigate to the “people” tab where you can find local businesses to follow. Again, you can send them a message and introduce yourself, too. In this way, you’re on the road to creating better relationships with these businesses which will ultimately result in more brand awareness for your pharmacy.

WhatsApp

Did you know WhatsApp is increasingly being used as a marketing tool these days? This is a channel I’m exploring right now and it makes complete sense to use for business, particularly the broadcasting feature. Let’s say you took a day out of the pharmacy to go and visit local businesses in the area and you acquired the mobile numbers of each business owner. I’m 99% certain that all of these business owners have WhatsApp these days. What you could then do is place these contacts in a “broadcast” list on WhatsApp where you’re able to communicate with them easily and quickly. The great thing about this is that the contact receiving the message will not see everyone else in the group, which makes your communication even more personal. Is there a contact list like this you could be growing?

Of course, there is no beating face-to- face communication so I encourage you to get out there and organise meetings with the businesses and organisations around you, too. However, social media
is an excellent tool that can help you in the process of relationship building and it’s free to use. We must begin to embed platforms such as these into our current business models because this is the future of communication.

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