Starting a new business, be it at a local or national level, requires marketing of some kind. You need to get your name in the appropriate circles, you need to make contacts and attract those all important clients.
The world works on recommendation. You can see this in action on websites like Trip Advisor and Amazon or through word of mouth.
People want to reduce the risk involved in parting with their hard-earned cash so if they hear from a trusted source that you’re a good option, you’re onto a winner.
It’s also said that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
So when starting a new business making contacts and getting recommendations are key.
But where do you start? Who do you contact and how? Do you consider, dare I mention, the two Cs to attract customers? Cold calling.
So what’s the best way to get your business out there without seeming pushy or awkward?
Networking; the key to success?
There are so many ways of increasing awareness of your business but I’m going to focus on networking. If your clients are consumers aka Joe Public, it possible networking won’t be the most effective marketing tool. But if you’re targeting other businesses then maybe it could help.
Online or offline?
Networking events supposedly offer an opportunity to meet like-minded people and make contacts. But is the reality of the situation always the same? And what method should you trust?
Personally I’ll talk the hind legs off a donkey, any donkey but call it ‘Networking’ and interactions can feel laboured and awkward.
You’re so keen to make a great impression, it’s only natural that you might get a bit nervous.
One way of easing the self-consciousness is to use social media to help you out.
In the age of digital media, social media is really taking off when it comes to business networking. Or so I’m told.
Twitter and LinkedIn mainly focus on B2B (business to business) interactions and focus on introducing business contacts to each other going on to make recommendations and endorsements, in the latter’s case.
So perhaps you could introduce yourself and have some preliminary interactions via the web to break the ice.
You get to plan what you’re going to say, in a controlled environment.
I’ve not yet found LinkedIn to lead go much. So far at least.
Granted I don’t spend much time on the site, which where people publish their CV and work experience along with articles of interest.
The Early Bird Catches The Worm
Another method of networking: good old face to face.
I’ve come across a lot of networking events that take place in the morning. Early in the morning.
I’m not sure that I’m at my best at 07:00 (and I’m pretty good of a morning!) but great to sneak it in before the working day starts so you can continue business as usual
I feel that I need to increase the amount that I network both online and offline. I think that way you get the best of both worlds.
I can plan out how to introduce myself, usually through a shared contact, embodying professionalism and competence at the same time as appearing human, witty and likeable.
It’s quite a juggling act I can tell you but I manage it with effortless ease!
But then you can follow it up with the power of human contact (but don’t go hugging strangers)!
People buy into people, don’t they? So why not wow your new contact in person with your knowledge, personality and enthusiasm. That’s your edge, your personality and individuality.
I suppose my take is that online tools can help with the introduction to new acquaintances but the face to face meeting is still needed, relatively early on in the process to get that all important personal feel.
At least that’s my take on it. Let me know what you think.
Have you got any tips for effectively making new contacts without the interactions seeming cumbersome? Or do you even have any horror stories to share?