Networking for professionals
The importance of networking has always been paramount to the success of any business. The ability to connect, form relationships and develop partnerships that can not only create revenue but also provide the invaluable benefits of word of mouth recommendation.
In today’s marketplace the power of Digital Marketing and Online Social Networking has become an integral part of day-to-day working life. Platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube and many others allow professionals to connect with people and businesses they may not come into contact with otherwise.
Customers now demand the instant access to businesses via Social Networking. It’s been stated that if companies aren’t harnessing the opportunities available to them online they can be losing a considerable percentage of possible leads to rival companies that are proactive online.
Taking LinkedIn as an example, which is designed with the professional in mind, it allows people of all industries to grow their network through current client lists and connections. You’re given the option to join groups that often organise networking events in your local area and beyond, with a premium membership you’re able to ‘cold call’ so to speak and connect with companies you may have found impossible to reach out to before and you’re also able to amass recommendations from clients that show on your profile that further increase the volume of your voice amongst the crowd.
Face to face networking will never lose its place, as much as 21stcentury society embraces the online world, the offline opportunities cannot be disregarded. Traditional options including joining a Chamber of Commerce, Sponsorship Committees, Sporting Venues, Independent Business Groups, Community Groups, Charitable Organisations and so on. Also attending workshops can be a fantastic opportunity to meet a wide variety of professionals. Seminars on subjects such as Digital Marketing, Social Networking etc. will attract CEOs, Directors and Senior Management.
Standing out and being memorable are key elements when it comes to networking, both online and offline. If you’re attending an event with your local Chamber of Commerce ensure you’re wearing a clear name badge that also states your company and title. Putting in your research beforehand is also vital, finding out the type of people who are likely to attend, about their business and how you might be of benefit to them. Showing an interest in them as people will also ensure you stick in their minds, being genuine, approachable and more than just a sales pitch.
Make sure you take some form of marketing material with you, even if that’s just a simple business card. If you do have the opportunity to think a little outside the box to make you and your business even more memorable then presenting something like a USB Memory Stick which might have a video about your business or a PDF that’s interactive and allows instant access to your website and social media pages would certainly make you stick in their memory.
Being genuine and approachable online is just as important. Businesses often make the mistake of using Social Media as a sales tool when it should be seen as a community builder. Once you’ve made the connections and opened the lines of communication you can then convert and up sell. Rather than approaching a fellow professional about what you can offer then, try approaching them to find out more about their services. People are much more likely to reply and accept your invitations if they think you’re interested in them rather than just their potential to earn you money.
Social Media has swept away the aloof side of the business world. It has broken down the barriers between customer and CEO and it has allowed the connectivity to flourish which for many businesses has open avenues that have never before been available to them. Although some elements of traditional networking are different or not applicable to the online world, many are exactly the same.
Becoming a successful networker is about one thing and one thing only; communication. Get your tone right and the rest will follow.