Networking, Social Networking, Online Networking, Rubbing Elbows…whatever you call it, you’ve got to have it in order to connect with your ideal customers and to land the types of gigs you’ve been dreaming of.
I don’t care what any professional marketer tells you: you cannot rely solely on ad campaigns to build your business. You’re going to have to make the types of personal connections that leave people feeling good about taking the next step with you and your brand.
Networking isn’t what it used to be.
If you’ve ever been to a stuffy networking event, where all the same people say all the same things and the environment is always uncomfortable, leaving you searching for words and interacting with all the wrong people…then you know that it went through a bad spell. I am happy to say, however, that networking has evolved.
Most networking has moved online, particularly to social media platforms. There are social media pages, of course, but there are also groups, live broadcasting, cross-posting and much more.
Here are some of my tips for making lucrative connections via social networking:
- Get Specific. Pinpoint those people with whom you’d like to connect (because they are your ideal customer, because they know your ideal customers, or because they are a key influencer with lots of your ideal customers on their list). Follow those people, instead of spraying and praying ad campaigns in the hopes that your target audience will take notice.
- Join Relevant Groups. Social media groups are great because they’re founded with commonality in mind. Everyone in the group shares some pain, some joy, some obsession or some problem. Find those groups with high concentrations of people who are suffering from the problem you solve or who particularly appreciate the type of work you’re doing.
- Serve Rather than Sell. Look for talk about pains that you can relieve and pleas for advice that you can [uniquely] give. Offer guidance freely, and maintain a spirit of helpfulness and concern. Point people to other resources. Refer them to experts who can help when you’re not equipped. Avoid selling your product or service unless asked. This may seem counterintuitive at first; however, I believe that you’ll find the relationships you forge will be highly sales-conducive.
- Offer Value. Very few people will want to connect with you ‘just because.’ Your sparkling personality will rarely be enough. Instead, offer them something they can sink their teeth into…something they can use. Maybe that’s motivation or inspiration. Maybe that’s connection to others they’ve been wanting to connect with. Maybe it’s notoriety or a reputation boost. No matter what you have to offer, make sure it closely aligns with what your ideal customers want.
- Move out from Behind the Device. Social networking is the wave of the connection future; however, that doesn’t negate the need for in-person networking. Have lunch. Play golf. Attend events. Do all the things you need to do to get your face and your handshake into the days of those who can make the biggest difference to your brand.
Networking—especially social networking—is necessary for international (and sometimes even local) success in the 21st century. Be proactive. Follow leads. Pay close attention to what your ideal customers are doing, where they’re hanging out and with whom they’re connecting…always remembering that the next connection could be the one that leads to your dream client.