Every week I get to meet lots of people at networking events. What’s really flattering these days is that people often ask my advice on networking. Just recently I’ve been asked how to build a speaking career, how do launch a premium online community, how to promote a book using business networking as your platform, as well as much much more.
I always try my best to give as much advice and support as I can in the short time we have together. And the advice is very often the same. You can be the best speaker in the world, have the best online community in the world, write the best book in the world. And you need an audience so that other people know how great you are.
What I spot is people spending huge amounts of time and effort getting their product or service just right, making sure they are brilliant speakers, making sure their book is awesome, but without putting the same effort into working out who is going to work with them, book them, or buy their book.
It was always thus. When I was an estate agent, we knew we were working for a great firm, who had a great offering. And we needed our local homeowners to know that too. So back in the day, if I wasn’t showing someone around a house, I was either bashing the ‘phones and talking to people who might want to view a house, or pounding the streets pushing letters through doors of people who might want to sell a house. As well as doing, we were telling people about what we did. Broadly speaking, that’s called marketing.
My thing is networking and social media, you might prefer SEO, SEM, Email marketing, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, content marketing, direct mail, cold calling, traditional marketing, press advertising, PR, or a combination of all of those. But whichever vehicle you choose, you need to be out there and being the biggest advocate for what you do or what you have created.
Someone once “accused” networking of being a beauty parade. Broadly speaking, he felt he was more qualified to do a certain type of work, but someone else was getting more leads and more sales than him. Oddly enough the person getting more leads and more sales was putting more effort into building his community and giving value, rather than moaning that someone else was doing better than him.
So what can you do to build that audience?
- Be realistic about how big your audience is right now. It is an art more than a science but the combined number of people who are on your Email list, your LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Facebook page likes will give you some idea. Bear in mind that most of these people won’t be buying from you at any given time. I often see people massively overestimate the number of people in their audience who are going to buy their stuff. I’ve done it myself.
- Get out networking. Meet more people. Start those conversations. That bit is simple.
- Get busy with your other marketing. What works for you? Do more of that. Don’t be afraid to try something new. But get busy and make sure people can’t ignore you.
- Learn to follow up with people at scale. Use every tool you have available to keep in touch with your crowd and bring value to that crowd. Don’t just follow up to try to make sales. Follow up to build those deep, strong relationships, some of which will lead to sales. You have social media, Email marketing and more networking to be able to do this.
- Work out how to create PR around your business and your story and get onto that as well. Talk to your local press about what you’re doing. Make it easy for them. Learn how to write a press release and get stories to them regularly, some will land, some won’t. But more will land if you actually do it. Don’t forget to include local radio and hyperlocal television if that is a thing in your location.
- Create content. Written content in the form of blogs and articles, video content for Facebook and YouTube, audio content for podcasts and anchor. Just get started. Work out how to get better at it over time, but getting started beats doing nothing.
- Make it easy for people to buy from you. Don’t put hurdles in the way of people making that final decision, in that zero moment of truth, to actually part with cash and invest in your services or product. Keep refining and making it easier and easier for people to do business with you. You’re in business, ultimately what you do needs to lead people to the till.
- Don’t be afraid to get it wrong, don’t be afraid to refine along the way. Listen to the feedback, measure and monitor your marketing efforts. Refine if and when necessary and do that quickly. Remember that some of the feedback might be silent.
Whatever you’re doing, no matter whether you’re the best at it in the world, you still need people to know about it if you’re intending to sell that. And if you’re reading this, you probably are.
If you really are the best at what you do, once you’ve created the audience, the sales will come. But you will still lose sales to the second best if they’ve got the bigger audience.
Have I missed anything? Do you want to comment? Go for it.