Networking is a key component to getting the word out about your brand. Attending local business meetups and community events is necessary for meeting more people in your area, but you can also benefit from networking online. Here we’ll discuss a strategy that blends the two–online and offline networking–together.
What You Should Be Doing Offline
Most cities provide ample opportunity for you to meet other business people as well as potential clients. Check Meetup to find groups in your industry or niche. Find a handful of groups that you feel you benefit from participating in and attend monthly meetings.
Go into meeting other professionals with the “How can I help you?” attitude, not “What can you do for me?” Many people simply don’t understand that networking isn’t about finding your next client (though you often do) but rather finding people you can connect with and build a relationship with. You may find that you can refer a new contact to someone else, and connecting others always feels great. Your contacts will, in time, return the favor.
What You Should Be Doing Online
Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can connect you to others in your industry as well as people looking for the solutions you provide. Work your way into groups and participate in discussions to show your expertise. Build your followers by following people that interest you. Remember that online networking takes time (as does offline), and it’s worth the effort to build it up. Just be patient before expecting results.
Connecting the Two
Whenever you meet someone in person, get her business card and look her up on the social networks you frequent. Send a message via Twitter saying “great meeting you at X event” just to alert her that you’re now following her. Connecting online as well as off gives you more opportunity to build a bond with your new contacts.
On the flip side, if you interact with people on social sites who live in your area, make a point of inviting them to coffee or lunch to get the benefits of face-to-face connection. Or if you’re traveling to another city for a conference, see which of your online contacts you can meet up with.
We no longer live in a world where you can get away with only networking online or only networking offline. These days, business professionals are savvy and are looking for ways to build relationships on multiple platforms. Make sure your networking strategy accommodates this.
Learn more about how to networking online and off in our upcoming seminar, The Art of Successful Networking Offline and Online on October 4, 2012 at 1 pm eastern.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends, CorpNet and Lead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
Photo: Official GDC on Flickr