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I have recently come to the realisation that many people simply don't know how to network effectively. This is especially the case with small businesses where the owner is the accountant, the salesperson, the lawyer and the janitor.
In this post I'm going to let you in on 3 of the "secrets" (That's what every internet marketer will have you believe, right?) I have learned in my network marketing efforts. Keep these truths in mind when networking (in any setting - online or offline) and you can turn your network into one that works for you, a network that generates leads.
For new business owners - you've hopefully got a new website designed. Perhaps you've started up a Facebook page and Twitter profile too. Either way, you now need to start networking and making contacts who are hopefully going to visit your website, Facebook page, whatever. Keep the following things in mind when trying to connect with new people and your marketing will be far more effective. Heck, you might even have some fun doing it!
Funnily enough, the most important secret to effective network marketing is the age-old common courtesy of putting others first.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you are constantly promoting yourself without so much as letting the other person get a word in, you're wasting your time and your breath. Your networking will never be effective.
Far too many people put themselves and their businesses on a pedestal and expect people to want to hear all about them. Posting a link/ad somewhere is certainly not networking. Registering on a forum and filling your meet & greet post with advertising copy, following which you are never seen again, is not networking.
Networking that works is all about two-way communication between two people. Show a little interest in the other person. More often than not he/she will reciprocate by showing interest in you and your business. That is networking. If you do somebody a good turn and they don't reciprocate, they are one of the aforementioned "far too many people". Move on feeling good about yourself and pitying the guy who's just missed an opportunity.
I have met a number of extremely interesting individuals and made friends who have taught me so much and helped me out more than just once - simply by taking an interest in them first.
Try it, you'd be surprised at how rewarding it can be.
If you think you can start networking with people and have scores of new leads in a day or two, you're wrong. There is the odd exception, yes, but more often than not, effective networking takes time.
This is not a bad thing, though. Once you have established a truly great network of contacts - one which you constantly interact with and grow slowly - that network will be one of the best marketing tools you can have. Best of all? It's free!
Do your networking with the goal of making new lifelong contacts - perhaps even making a few new friends. Establish credibility through constant interaction. Be seen as an expert in your field - not a fly-by-night chancer.
Networking is not effective if you're looking to make a quick buck. It's a tool which is better than any other at generating long term benefits for you and your business.
So you've converted a lead. Got 'em in the bag. You're running all the way to the bank laughing at Red Giant and our nonsensical drivel about "effective networking". You scored a customer - you don't need us!
Now what if I told you that at that point you have only really begun the effective networking process. If you were really smart, you would see that brand new customer as a networking opportunity, as opposed to a networking success.
When we score a new web design client, some new branding work or even a client wanting a few small edits to a Facebook page, we make sure that that customer gets a whole lot more than he is paying for.
In addition, we maintain contact. We check up on the client periodically after we have done the work. We help them out from time to time without any expectation of remuneration. Under-promise. Over-deliver. Always.
We always make sure to over-deliver on the clients expectations. The end result is that Red Giant Design is a lot more memorable. People love to tell others about fantastic service they have achieved and we reap all the rewards - simply for being generally nice blokes to deal with.
If you're smart, you'll begin your networking with your current customer base. When word of mouth starts to feature prominently in your lead generation sources, you know your networking is effective.
If you remember and implement all 3 of the above "secrets" going forward, I assure you your marketing will take a turn for the better.
Starting with your customers, put other people first and in time your networking efforts will start to generate quality leads for your business.
Get rid of the idea that SPAM is networking or that you're going to bring in a bunch of new business through a whole lot of self-promotion. Nobody likes a selfish person.
Have you learned any great networking "secrets"? Let me know in the comments below.
My next post is going to be all about how exactly I go about my own networking - the exact methods I use to grow my own effective network. If you'd like to be notified when I post it, simply subscribe to our newsletter or Like us on Facebook.