If you’re looking to grow your business, no matter the size, you’ve probably already looked into online marketing. Search engine optimization, pay per click advertisements—there are a lot of different ways to tackle the problem and reach your goals more efficiently. However, you may be surprised to learn that gunning for clicks, hits and conversions only can often leave your business in a lurch.
In today’s busy marketing world, it’s easy to aim for sales over everything else, and easier still to focus entirely on working online. Everything else these days is electronic, why shouldn’t your business be the same? There’s no doubt that you need an online presence to keep your business afloat, but when it comes to growing your business and expanding your reach—to borrow an old adage—it’s not so much a matter of what you know as who you know.
Networking, particularly of the in-person variety, is still an important and oftentimes overlooked step in making your business the best it can be. According to Smart Business Online, you should always keep in touch with your networking connections—you never know when they’ll send a client your way. Communicating openly with other people and businesses is integral to word of mouth marketing, but more than that it allows you and your business to be integrated into a community with reach that spreads far beyond your industry.
If you’ve ever been to a mixer or networking event in the past, chances are you’re in one of two camps:
- You believe that networking is important for your business to find colleagues and peers, but can’t stand the actual networking process. Whether you’re antisocial or would just be back at work doing what you do best, you hate networking.
- You love networking with a passion and see it as an ideal time to push for sales in a comfortable environment. Maybe you’re more comfortable in social situations, maybe you’re better at selling in person than online or over the phone, you love networking as a sales opportunity.
Both of these perspectives have highs and lows. Networking is important for the achievement of sales, but it’s also important for building up your connections and making yourself, if not your business, indispensible to your clients for reasons that extend past the walls of your business. One of the best ways to get people coming back to you for help is to offer that help in more than one area, and being able to refer a client to a business that provides a necessary service that you don’t. For instance, you could be a realtor with a client who comments regularly on having difficulty managing and tracking their finances effectively; this is an opportunity to refer the client to an accountant in your “network,” someone you’ve spoken to personally, a local business with practices that you trust.
As stated by Business Insider, a good networking effort offers returns in spades: it’s usually free, gives you the opportunity to communicate with like-minded individuals, and you already learn something new. Networking events should never be viewed as a chance to sell something, but rather a chance to build a relationship that will last. By offering help beyond your own four walls, you’re giving your clients value above and beyond what your business itself can offer, and that’s really what keeps them coming back.
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