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!
Why? Because I have always associated it as a form of sales, when in fact, when I finally bothered to drag myself out of the dark ages of the nineties, it is actually an amazingly effective marketing channel!
In the 2 years since I first dipped my toe in the water with networking which was then face-to-face, 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 best suited to you in terms of its ethos, style of meeting, and perhaps most importantly, its culture – as they do differ greatly. 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.
But what about networking in 2020 where the whole world has had to embrace online meetings, catch-ups, training, and the rest?
Does online networking do it for you, or is it a necessary evil while the world is blighted by Covid?
For those dyed in the wool face-to-face fans, I hear you! It’s not the same but, like almost all aspects of how we now run our business, to not embrace it is a huge missed opportunity as, whether you have so far resisted it or not, online networking is here to stay for the foreseeable future!
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, after my health during this pandemic.
- It’s also making (most!) of us hone our elevator pitch to be short and sharp as time is more precious and 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 advocate a professional 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 creating trusting relationships and friendships with other business people – it’s about building ‘know, like and trust’.
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 a recent ONLE Networking podcast where we focused on effective networking online – what’s the same, what’s changed, and how to build connections. It’s worth a listen/watch as it gives some great tips on how to network effectively from home.
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 gives you the heebie-jeebies, let’s have a chat.
I can offer some advice 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.