Marketing: How you can build a bond offline online, by Kim Morrison
I talk a lot about building relationships online with all the different social media platforms available today. It’s easy to focus your marketing time there because it’s generally less time consuming to engage from your computer than it is to attend real-life functions and talk to people in your community. A word of warning though…if you depend solely on social media for your marketing, you’re missing a vast opportunity to market your business to your local audience right in your own backyard.
Your marketing goal should always be to build relationships with people you can help with your products or services. Even though you may be tempted, don’t push the hard sell on people you’ve just met.
They don’t know you, so they’re unlikely to spend their hard-earned cash on your product or service. However, by interacting with them at networking events, as well as engaging them on social media, you’ll build a foundation upon which to grow a stronger relationship, which may ultimately lead to them buying from you.
In these strange times, you can do a combination of offline online networking as so many networking groups have switched to using Zoom or other apps to host their networking events. The basic rules of offline networking apply to these online events as they are quite different to social media.
How to get started networking offline online
The idea of walking into a room without knowing a single soul can no doubt be daunting. But the alternative of not sharing your story and your mission to those who may be seeking this exact answer to their problems is equally troubling. No matter how you want to start networking in real life, put on your brave face and tackle your social fears head on.
Though you don’t have to physically walk into a room with online events, you do need to still turn up and be visible so have your phone or computer camera ready and switched on. People still want to see your face.
1. Join a relevant business networking group
There are dozens of business networking groups and chambers of commerce spread across the country in every locale, so you really can pick and choose which group is best for you. They all seem to have an online networking version now. You want to reap a reward for being a part of the group, but your acceptance into any business group will depend on what you can contribute. After all, it’s all about building relationships.
Some groups are more formal and have standard meeting rules, while others may be much more casual and usually smaller in scale. Ask to visit a meeting or two before submitting an application to join and never be afraid to ask questions about the other members or when the group was formed.
2. Hold live workshops
A great way to showcase your authority and expertise is to speak to your local community! Networking events will often have a speaker and choose a topic you are passionate about and expert in that will provide value to your audience. It can feel as if you’re talking to yourself when you first present online but let your enthusiasm carry you through. Make sure to collect business cards or ask if the host will share email addresses so you can connect with attendees on social media and continue the relationship building.
3. Volunteer in the community
Look for groups or charities that are relevant to your experience, but don’t go in thinking you need to change everything. Building relationships should be a positive experience, so offer your guidance and input when asked. Otherwise, enjoy conversing with other volunteers, board members, and administrative personnel, all of whom could potentially refer you to their family, friends, or other networking contacts.
Don’t let the pandemic deter you from offline networking…even if that is online for now!
Contact Kim via firstname.lastname@example.org