Networking can help you generate new sales leads, deepen connections with existing contacts and learn useful information about your markets. So why do so many businesses do it in such an ad-hoc way?
We all know networking as a business marketing tool that will help to deliver your overall business and marketing strategy. But put simply, networking is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Networking is a key skill in the modern world. Most businesses would not be where they are today without the connections, they made during networking engagements. It can help you with marketing by introducing you to new people and opportunities.
Because it is a personal form of communication and usually involves face-to-face contact, networking deepens your business's connections. It works incredibly well if you are looking to break into new markets, learn about your competitors, deepen your knowledge of your customers and other forms of market research. In fact, in any area where it is important to know what's going on inside a client's business and or the markets you work in, networking works brilliantly well.
So how can we effectively implement networking into our marketing plan?
Aim to create, build, and deepen business relationships.
Where else do you have the opportunity to speak to other like-minded business owners, get to know them and form long-lasting relationships? Making business connections is great! However, not everyone you meet is going to be your client. For everyone else, helping them grow should be your focus. Look to share you expertise and knowledge with others. In return you will gain understanding of problems you are yet to conquer or even yet to face. Knowledge is a currency that can be traded with other businesses, helping each other to develop, learn and grow.
Your business should look to grab opportunities to collaborate and be a part of the business community. Contribute to a project that another business is working on! This will allow you to demonstrate value to both the organisation and their consumers. It is important to collaborate on projects that match your business goals, vision and ethos. Being active within your networking community will build stronger connections with other businesses. Collaboration will help your business to develop a reputation of being knowledgeable, reliable, and supportive by offering solutions and practical hints and tips.
Share your Story
We all love a story! So share your passion for what you do and how you got there. Showcasing your unique journey and processes can act as a powerful and practical marketing tool for your business. Advertising you unique proposition with examples of how you solve your customer’s problems can help raise your profile and build your reputation as the trusted, go-to person that does x, y and z.
Grow your Business
The end game of any marketing activity is to gain new business. Whilst other steps may help to develop your reputation within the community, make sure your efforts are leading to positive returns e.g. referrals, positive Word-of-Mouth, collaboration, learning opportunities etc.
All marketing has a Return on Investment and networking is no different. Don’t forget to measure and analysis your returns from networking activities to see if you have gained new business, had a referral, learnt something new, or helped to collaborate on a project for mutual benefit.
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