Last week I talked about the benefits of networking face to face and promised to look at networking digitally to enable business to grow. Confidence can often be a factor in avoiding going to events, but time is also a great excuse for not using networking as a valuable tool for marketing business and growing trust within your local area. Once investing time in this area businesses often find that networking offers far more value for money than advertising can achieve and from my own personal experience, I can highly recommend considering all forms of networking as a way of letting people know what your business has to offer.
To help you decide where beset to spend your time and what kind of networking you should consider you should start by analysing your business and considering your target markets. Remember to set short- and long-term goals as these can often differ dramatically and this could change the outcome of the analysis. Face to face networking could be good for local businesses looking for local customers as this will enable the community to hear about them from word of mouth.
For businesses whom have a target audience that is based all over the country and even the world, digital marketing could be the best approach for you as doing so can ensure you reach a much wider number of people. For those considering this here are some useful tips to consider:
· Using your target market analysis investigate what types of social media they use and build a network on them. Don’t feel that you must do everything as being an SME you probably won’t have time to make it worthwhile, so it is essential to know where best to build to encourage networking with the right people.
· LinkedIn is great for B2B but is not just full of executives as many have often suggested to me. It can be a great place to create a business page that can even act as a free website for you if this is an area you are lacking in. You can showcase everything you do and by sharing with relevant groups on the platform this can be a very good way to tell people what you do.
· Facebook is often mistaken for a tool that is only used to talk with friends and family when it is a good place to meet people who are in the local area and may be interested in your company. Additionally, Facebook can be used to build a business profile and connect with other local businesses and consumers by joining groups and posting regularly there. As with any form of online marketing it is essential that you post regularly (but don’t spam people!), show your helpful side offering advice not just telling people what you sell and keep the topics current and relevant to encourage interest in what you are saying.
· Instagram is a place where you will find lots of visual content so if you are looking for a creative target market then this could be for you. Offering your own visuals can encourage your network to grow.
· YouTube is a fantastic place to showcase what you do and who you are. By creating your own how-to video’s people can find you when they are looking for tips on how to do something and once they can see you and what you offer is useful, trust will eventually build.
· Once you have started to build your presence on social media and have added contacts and followed people whom you would like to form a relationship with you can slowly start to connect with them and even speak on a 1 to 1 basis either via chat or video call. Just remember though, people’s time is precious so don’t suggest this to soon or come over pushy as this will result in the opposite effect.
· There are several online networking forums that often have a paid subscription or the ability to video chat in a larger group. These may be worth investing in, but you should be sure that you will get out of it a good access to the kind of target market that you want to attract, so shop around!
These are just a few ideas to help you on your way. You may be reading this thinking you do not know where to start with building your business network. If you are based or trading in Warwickshire or you are local and simply have a “pipe dream” that you would like to make true – CWRT can help you.
We offer free workshops and networking to guide you on your business journey and networking is only one of the areas that we will look at with you.
Contact Kerri or Jude us on 02476 551 777 to talk to us and take control of your destiny today.