Networking is the best and most effective way of connecting with potential customers. To build a successful business, many thriving entrepreneurs underline the importance of networking. Networking generates leads to more business, creates business referrals, and offers you the opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, discuss business challenges and learn from other business owners. It also allows you to meet new people and expand your professional contacts. The more people you know, the better it is for growing your business. Networking also raises your visibility and helps improve your brand.
As a Social Media Marketer, I understand the importance of creating connections online with your target audience, but it is also important to establish connections offline to build and maintain relationships.
Develop a strategy
By developing a solid strategy, and understanding your target audience, networking can be highly effective. Small business owners tend to be introverted. You can still become an effective networker even if you are not an extremely outgoing person! Think about this: “Who I need to connect with to help my business grow? What types of businesses, individuals or groups will be the most beneficial? How will I connect with them?” The answers could lie within the proper use of social media tools, attending local Chamber of Commerce events, or joining business groups. Search out networking events in your target market and make a plan to attend a certain amount weekly or monthly. Place them in your calendar and stick your plan.
Be organised. The more structured you are, the better your business will work for you. For example, one of your goals could be to gain a few more contacts every week, such as more connections on LinkedIn or more followers via Twitter. Another goal could be to attend events more regularly, events your potential customers will attend. Also, attending conferences once a month or once a year opens opportunities to meet new people. It helps get you out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Networking could also be achieved by sending relationship building emails or posting relevant and regular updates via social media. Another great way to network is to set meetings to have coffee with those you have either connected with online or to reconnect with those that you have met at a networking event.
Make the Connection
When meeting new business connections for the first time, think about your “elevator pitch”. The elevator pitch is how you present your value within 60 seconds. What’s in it for them? Explain how your business can help them. Keep in mind that most people don’t want to feel pressured in buying something, they love to learn how your products or services will benefit them. LISTEN! People enjoy telling their story. By becoming a good listener, you will pick up on cues and ideas, generate leads, and help evolve your business.
Keep the connection alive
Once you make the connection online or offline, it is important to nurture the relationship. How? It’s simple. Stay in touch, send them a message via email, social media or telephone. If you are using social media tools like LinkedIn to generate more leads, post updates on a regular basis. Make that part of your Social Media Marketing Plan.
Be a connector
That’s right! By connecting others, you also grow the potential of your own network. Help other businesses grow by connecting them with potential clients, employees or people you think they could collaborate with. Be sincere with your recommendations and connections. Don’t do it to get something in return. By helping others achieve and succeed, it will bring added value to your personal and professional growth.
Get out there!
Please share your own tips about networking in the comments below.