Why is a marketing expert, who focuses on digital marketing strategies, writing about networking? Because networking is one of the most reliable ways to do a number of “reality checks” when it comes to your marketing strategy. Here are four important reasons why your marketing plan should include networking, no matter what your product or service may be.
1.Networking with customers/clients/prospects gets you out of your own head
Every business owner that I’ve spoken with thinks s/he understands his/her customer or client. But are you keeping up with today’s rapidly changing landscape? Has something shifted there, for your clients and customers?
In fact, with today’s new technology leaps, is there something that your customer or client is fighting now that didn’t exist two or three years ago? Networking with your clients and prospects, on an ongoing basis, is the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in their lives (and businesses).
2. You’ll see if you can expand your target market – or find new niches
As a business person, having the opportunity to really hear what people are experiencing in their daily/professional lives can be difficult to do, especially when you’re trying to juggle work obligations and put out fires all day long.
Are there other markets or product/service opportunities that you can explore? Are there additional pain points you hadn’t thought of or addressed? Are people using your product or services in ways you hadn’t thought of?
The world is shifting all the time and there may be opportunities you haven’t yet seen or explored. Get out there and talk to people and find out!
3. The more people you talk to, the more people you influence
It’s simple math: you create an ever-widening sphere of influence when you talk people; if you make a positive impression, people who know you can help spread the word about you and your products or services.
There are interesting networking groups out there, such as BNI (full-disclosure: I’m a new member!) and these groups become your “external sales team” if you do networking well.
This also applies to people who work for you. Their connections and spheres of influence become an ever-widening universe for you, increasing your brand name exposure. Take advantage of the math! The more people who know about you, the more people can become prospects.
4. It’s a great way to hear how you’re doing – the good and the bad
Would you rather learn about customer frustration from angry tweets? Especially if these individuals have thousands of followers? If you really want to know what people are thinking about you, it’s better to have it face-to-face than online.
WARNING: if you really want to hear what people think about you/your products and services, be open-minded enough to listen. It’s sometimes a knee-jerk, automatic reaction to become defensive – because we’re all trying to do our best. Hearing that work or product isn’t appreciated can be hurtful. My advice: get beyond the hurt and listen so that you can be even better at what you do/sell/market.
If you approach networking with an open mind, it can be invaluable. You’ll hear what people are saying about you, your company, and your products and services. You’ll learn about what’s going on outside your reality and your business. And you’ll educate others about what you do, and increase your sphere of influence.
Get out there and hear what people/customers/prospects have to say! Not sure what else to do to increase your marketing reach? Contact me and let’s talk about it.