Budget-Friendly Marketing Tactic: Networking
With economic pressures putting the squeeze on marketing budgets, one tactic small businesses and B2B marketers should consider moving up on their priority list is networking.
In a Business Week podcast, Liz Lynch, founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of Smart Networking, says, ““Networking is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep marketing during an economic downturn.”
Not only for extroverts
Lynch stresses that you don’t have to be an extrovert to be successful at networking. In fact, introverts are often much better at letting others have the spotlight and share their story – qualities that are essential to building relationships and networking successfully.
Commit to the time investment
Joining a local industry group or alliance can be a great way to start your networking efforts. Monthly meetings will be worth your investment in time to grow your network – and your business. Groups like E3 Network often hold annual conferences, which are a great way to learn Best Practices and gain insight into what makes others successful.
Start with what you know
If you’re new to networking, start by contacting current and former colleagues, bosses or university friends. Don’t ask them for business, or think of your conversation as a sales call, but rather focus on starting a discussion or asking for advice. As Lynch says, everyone likes to feel their opinion is valuable and most people will gladly share it with you.
You might also consider asking your clients where they go to network. Perhaps they will even invite you to join them. What better reference can you get from a client than to have them introduce you around a networking event?
Whether you want to network online, or in a local group, consider your choices:
- Networking web sites such as LinkedIn, Xing, Spoke and Facebook
- Local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Regional Business Bureaus, Venture Forums or International Clubs.
- Industry organizations or trade groups (Google your industry keyword, such as Biomedical Research or Manufacturing Groups)
- Communications networking groups such as E3 Network, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), International Advertising Association (IAA), IPRA
Remember, networking is about making connections. Finding people who can help you and whom you can help. You need to build trust and mutual respect and that won’t happen if you go in looking for a sale. Take your time, get involved in the organization, hold a position or join a committee, and you’ll become someone who is known for “doing” and “giving”. Someone others will want to recommend or and do business with.
You never know what connections your former college roommate might have or how they can help you unless you ask. International connections are especially valuable. If you’ve lived or worked abroad, or relocated more than once, keep in touch with former colleagues. Send them ideas and resources that may be useful to them, and ask them for advice when you think they can help.
Have an interesting story to share about networking? Tell us!
Listen to Business Week’s PodCast on Smart Networking.
Filed under: B2B, Networking | 1 Comment