If the answer is no then it’s time to include it! Networking has become the most successful marketing tool in my toolbox!
It has given me the chance to grow a community of like-minded suppliers, collaborate with other small business owners, make new friends and get regular recommendations which I’ve turned into paying customers. Win, win and win again!
If somebody had told me a couple of years ago that my most successful marketing channel would be networking, I would definitely not have believed them!
I previously associated it as sales, when in fact, when I finally bothered to drag myself out of the dark ages, it is actually an amazingly effective marketing choice for service-based small business owners and consultants, who often work alone or in very small teams.
In the 2+ years since I first dipped my toe into the networking pool, whether face-to-face or online, I’ve developed much more confidence and clarity around how to make the most of this ‘marmite’ like marketing channel!
The key is to find the one networking group best suited to you in terms of its ethos, style of meeting, and perhaps most importantly, its culture – as they do differ greatly. It should NOT be based solely on the others in the group, this is a factor, but not the deciding one!
I tried quite a few formats before I found the one that worked for me so there will be some trial and error involved but the good news is, it’s all valuable because each different one you try offers the chance to meet new faces and, of course, tell them about you and what you do! And most paid for networking organisations will allow you to try before you buy for free, or at a minimal cost.
And then there was Covid where the whole world had to embrace online meetings, catch-ups, and the rest. And networking has forever changed as the online option works – it is less time spent away from your paid work, less cost to attend or travel to – and the same win, win, win results though.
So, what are the positives of online networking?
- It’s more time-efficient for one! And I realise that time really is my most precious commodity, as a small business of just one.
- It’s also making (most!) of us hone our pitch to be short and sharp as you can see how engaged (or not) the whole audience is too.
- It is more flexible in terms of where you are when you attend, although I would suggest a professional (branded) background to your Zoom (or other video conferencing) account, even if it’s a virtual one.
- Depending on the host and their meeting format, it can be a really efficient way of spending an hour or so, as you can also get mini 1-2-1’s included in some of those run by the more forward-thinking organisations.
Successful networkers know that networking is not all about them!
Networking is about building ‘know, like and trust’. Add value, give your time and avoid the hard sell. The next natural step is then creating relationships and friendships with other business people – your business ‘tribe’.
What do I mean by adding value?
The best networkers I’ve met are often those who focus on connecting people with others they know who can mutually benefit from the introduction; who help others by referring clients, providing testimonials, or helping to promote events and other businesses in some added value way.
I had the chance to be part of an ONLE Networking podcast where we focused on effective networking online – what’s the same, what’s changed, and how to build connections. It was recorded back in lockdown but still worth a listen/watch as it gives some great tips on how to network effectively when you’re all remote. You can check it out here:
If the thought of being online and having to come up with a short intro about you and what you offer just makes you want to hide, let’s have a chat.
I offer valuable tips on how to present yourself and your brand in the best and most impactful way possible which will guarantee you make an impact for all the right reasons when you network.
Book a 30-minute call to find out more.