Networking is critical to a marketing strategy. Building a group of followers who believe in what you do, find value in your product or service, and are willing to endorse your offerings is a failproof business strategy. The more support you have for your company, the better you will get the word out about your business, grow your audience, and boost your sales.
Benefits of Networking
You never know when someone you meet through networking can help you through a challenge. As you build your network, you will meet more individuals and organizations to lean on for advice, opinions, and direction.
You will also have more people who can step in to help your company grow. And, of course, as you seek to make new connections, it will help you gain visibility as an entrepreneur and expose your business to a broader and more dedicated audience.
Preparing for Opportunities
While there are countless ways to start building your network, take time to prepare before you venture out. For instance, invest in making business cards and make sure they are unique and memorable; you will want to keep your business cards handy wherever you go.
Also, develop an elevator pitch to know what to say when people ask you what you do and what your business offers. Moreover, any time you plan on going to an industry-specific event, research the topics that you expect will be covered, as well as the keynote speakers. That way, your conversations with people can be more focused and productive.
Speaking of events, go to every local networking event you can. Even if you run a business that operates primarily online, having local support is invaluable. Look for any classes, seminars, fundraisers, or other events you can attend and build your reputation around town.
Of course, nothing can replace the internet when meeting people in your field. Many entrepreneurs reconnect with old friends and acquaintances that can help them on their journey. And while social networking sites are valuable for keeping in touch and growing your professional network, there are other networking sites that can offer a treasure trove of potential introductions.
One example is to find former classmates through websites like ClassFinders, which allow you to locate individuals from your high school class quickly. All you have to do is type in the name of the person you are looking for and their graduation date, and you can reconnect in no time!
Another option is to find industry or trade associations that target the group of buyers or personas you are trying to market your goods or services to. Nearly every industry has an association or two where educational opportunities exist to share the value you can provide to this community.
Read more about social media’s role in networking effectivity, What Role Does Social Media Play in your Marketing Plan?
Maintaining Your Connections
Connecting with other professionals and organizations locally, online, and at industry events across the country are the first steps to building a solid network on which you can rely. But if you don’t keep up with your relationships, there is no way to maximize the benefits. Each time you meet someone, be sure to maintain the relationship through social media or email.
You may even stay connected through texting or phone calls in some instances. You must approach each network relationship as mutually beneficial. Therefore, don’t contact people only when you need something from them! You must provide value to others, and your interactions should always be concise, friendly, and professional.
If you want a strong marketing strategy for your small business, you must begin building your professional network. Remember to go into each networking opportunity prepared and use all the resources at your disposal to connect with people in person and online. Finally, as you grow your network, prioritize your new relationships – and keep in touch so that they can grow stronger!