I go to a LOT of networking events and talk to a lot of people along the way. At last count I’ve attended something over 1000 business networking meetings across England, Scotland and Wales in the last ten years and in that time met tens of thousands of business owners.
When I started my networking journey I was an avid contributor to business forums on the internet and, since 2008 have been a huge fan of social media. I’m not pretending I know all the rules, I don’t think anyone does, but I do know that joining up my social media and business networking has made me a load of sales. In fact I’m in the fortunate position now where I am meeting people for the first time when they turn up at The Networking Retreat – having got to know them previously on either Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
At some point I started blogging and writing articles, but it wasn’t until I met Chris Marr of The Content Marketing Academy sometime in 2013 that I started to really understand content marketing and think harder about why and how I put my content out there.
To me, the whole lot joins up. Business networking on its own is powerful and can make a huge difference to the success of a business. Social media on its own can give you visibility in a way we couldn’t have dreamt of just ten years ago. And content marketing on its own can establish you as an expert in your field and attract prospective buyers to you.
But join the whole lot up and you have an incredible marketing advantage. Here’s why.
When you go to networking events you are inviting people to check you out. You meet people, chat, have a one to one and, most likely, exchange business cards proudly displaying your contact details, website address and often your social media links.
You are adding people to your network and they are adding you to theirs. But at this stage, you are just two people who met at a networking breakfast. You don’t really know each other apart from the ten minutes you spent with each other.
If you’ve taken my advice you will follow up, make friendly contact and connect with people on whichever social platforms are appropriate but, and this is really important, what then?
Once you’ve connected with them, once you’ve given them all your social profile details, once you’ve followed up, what would you really hope that they do? In my case I would really hope they will check out the website, LinkedIn profile and Facebook group I put hours into. I really hope that they do follow me on Twitter.
In short, I really hope that they check me out. I went networking to increase my visibility, to make sure that more people know about me and my stuff, so I hope that has been successful and that they will actually be looking. Truth be told, I hope that some of them will at some point buy from me.
But here’s the thing. Too many of us give our contacts nothing to look at. We go to all the effort of meeting and engaging with them at networking events. We get ourselves out of bed at stupid o clock, put on our best flowery shirt (or is that just me), spend time travelling to the event and then meeting and exchanging contact details with lovely people.
And then when they check us out, there is nothing there. We’ve invited them into an empty library. We’ve asked them to join a conversation that we haven’t actually been part of for months. We’ve opened the door, but there is nobody at home.
This is why, in my opinion, it is SO important to join up your networking, content and social.
You invite people to look at you, you give them something to look at, you keep the conversation going to that they can find your stuff easily.
- Go to networking events, regularly.
- Publish articles, blogs, videos, podcasts about your subject. If you’re getting started, just get started, you can work the details out later.
- Make it easy for people to find your content by sharing it on social. And listen to the feedback, if content is liked and shared by others, do more stuff like that.
When you go to networking events you are not just inviting people to check you out, you are positively encouraging them to do so. And you are in charge of what they find when they do.
I’m Stefan and my clients win more business from business networking. It only takes 24 hours to completely transform your networking success at The Networking Retreat, check it out.