As a veteran marketer and PR consultant, I’m always looking for fun ways to help my clients grasp the essence of marketing, and how it “fits” into their business. And this latest example comes courtesy of my single friends who are out there on the dating scene.

Indeed, have you ever noticed how much marketing is like dating? From creating a “wish list” for Mr. or Miss Right, to practicing the essential (and increasingly rare) art of active listening, marketing and dating are two time-honored activities that share some uncanny similarities. Here are 5 that make the case:

Similarity #1: They Both Aim for Ideals

Daters play a risky (and sometimes scary) guessing game if they head out the door without a solid of idea of the type of person they’re hoping to find. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be open minded and open to “luck lending a hand.” But without an ideal in mind, who knows where they’ll end up – or with whom?

As a business leader, you need to define your ideal client, too. Are they a solo practitioner, or a Fortune 500 brand? What’s their specialty or niche market? If you weren’t getting paid, who would you want to help and how could you best serve them? Often, your ideal target market is “hidden right in front of you.”

I’m a believer that we have the power to manifest things in our lives if we’re clear about what we want. Take a pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write out the qualities you want in your ideal client. This is a discovery process, and the more time you spend identifying your ideal client, the clearer you will be. And remember: you also may find it necessary to tweak your ideal client profile – and your own beliefs — so that you get paid what you’re worth. Start small, expand your influence and work your crowd.

Similarity #2: They Both Fish Where the Fish Are

Wise daters know that they have a better chance of finding their soul mate if they sign-up for classes or attend events. They’re simply more likely to find like-minded people who share a common interest. Essentially, they fish where the fish are – and not near the lily pads.

As a business leader, attending industry meetings or networking sessions is an easy way to mingle and connect with your niche market. Aim for conferences where you’ll find your ideal client. Make it a point to share your opinions at workshops and breakout sessions. Introduce yourself to key players and ask thoughtful questions at Q + A sessions. Work the room, and by all means, stand out in the crowd as a person of confidence and charisma. And while it’s great to make a big splash, don’t be disheartened if you need to start small. Big wigs weren’t born that way. They worked their way up, and the same will be true for you.

Similarity #3: They Both Plant Seeds

Daters let family, friends, co-workers and colleagues know that they’re interested in meeting someone. After all, everyone knows someone who would like to be in a committed and loving relationship.

As a business leader, you also want to leverage your network so that you can connect with your ideal clients. Now, keep in mind: there’s a right way to ask for an introduction (in person or virtually), and a wrong way. The right way is to be respectful of the fact that most business contacts are protective of their network, which is a valuable asset that they’ve developed and cultivated for years. So don’t be pushy or aggressive. Instead, work on building trust and identifying common ground. Building relationships is the key to growing a business. Start by knowing how to plant seeds in places where they’ll grow and flourish.

Similarity #4: They Both Depend on Attitude

Folks on the dating scene realize that they need to have the right attitude, which is one that’s positive, uplifting and energizing – and, of course, realistic. People can spot a happy person OR an angry person a mile away.

As a business leader, you need to have the same mindset. Even when the chips are down, and you’re feeling at the bottom of the barrel, you’ve got to let the world know that you have it together. Since you are your brand, in both your personal and business worlds, it’s important to look and act successful so you’ll inspire success in others. Truly believe in your greatness, and others will believe it too. There’s an energetic aura around you, so use that to let the world know who you are in a very big way, and how you’ll help solve their problems.

Similarity #5: They Both Need to Ask Questions and Listen

Dating superstars understand that people love talking about themselves, and so they ask questions about interests, work, family background, and so on. This not only sparks meaningful conversation, but it’s a great way to gauge interest and compatibility early on.

As a business leader, you need to think about what’s “in it” for your client – not you. If your clients are happy and you solve their problems, they’ll continue to be your clients. And the only way you can position yourself as a trusted partner is to ask meaningful questions, and actively listen to what’s being said – and what isn’t being said. Keep digging until you find your client’s true needs and wants. You’ll not only glean invaluable data, but you’ll impress your clients since, well, who doesn’t love talking about themselves to an attentive, thoughtful listener?

A Final Piece of Advice

We all know that love takes time. That’s not to say that an instant connection isn’t possible — it is. But usually, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint to really get to know someone and ensure that the attraction is more than superficial or “skin deep.”

As a business leader, keeping this timeframe in mind will serve you well. Is it possible to land a six figure account with one email or phone call? Since I’m an eternal optimist, I’d say yes – just don’t bet on it. Instead, lay the foundation to a solid business relationship as you would a friendship. Be there for your clients through the good times, as well as the bad times.

By doing that, your rewards won’t just be measured in sales and profits. You’ll also evolve and develop as more helpful and – believe it or not – loving and loveable person.

About PR And Brand Expert Robin Samora

Small business marketing and PR expert Robin Samora teaches small business owners how their brands can command attention in a noisy, crowded marketplace. Through her speaking, consulting and coaching, she helps clients find their ideal prospects, form valuable relationships and turn followers into loyal customers and raving fans. Robin’s mission is to help clients increase branding and visibility online and offline by cutting through the clutter so they can get noticed and sell more products and services. She uses social media, email marketing, speaking and free publicity strategies to enhance credibility, reputation and leadership position – even without a PR budget. Robin also shares marketing tools, tricks and articles on her weekly tip sheet, “Robin’s Rainmakers.”