How to Tap into Social Marketing through Networking
A key part of marketing that is often underutilized is the social side of marketing—not social media, but social meaning human-style marketing where you build relationships with other people. Some of these professional relationships can be short-term, but the majority are more longer-term relationships.
There are repeat networking groups (where the same group of professionals meets weekly, such as AmSpirit groups and BNI groups), changing networking groups, where the group of professionals is different every time, and nontraditional networking groups. All types of networking groups are important in their own ways, but the strategy for each one is different.
- Repeat Networking Groups
For repeat groups, the ultimate goal is to build strong enough relationships with each member of the group so that they all become your unofficial salespeople (meaning they regularly share information about you/your company to others and act as a consistent referral source for you). They should be an advocate for you and what you do, and you should do the same for them.
Almost every city has a networking group of some sort (some of which are targeted, such as Young Professionals, Business & Professional Women, etc.), and there are many industry-specific associations that hold regular meetings that you can join as well.
- Changing Networking Groups
When you attend changing groups where there are always new people in the room, your job is to meet and greet as many people as possible so that you can identify the ones who are ready to buy from you now. There is a statistic about networking that says it is 3:1 – it typically takes about three coffee meetings to get one customer. This can change based on product/service/industry, but in general, it will take multiple meetings to earn a customer. At every networking event you attend though, your goal should be to at least set up one coffee meeting with someone you could convert into a customer.
One of the best strategies for meeting others at these large networking events is to get other people to introduce you. When the person introducing you knows you and likes you, they will typically play you up to the other person. If you don’t know anyone else in the room, there will typically be a membership director there who can also help with facilitating introductions.
- Nontraditional Networking
There are some groups that don’t fall into the category of paid networking groups, but that are still valuable opportunities. Rotaries, civic groups, sporting clubs, charities, churches/religious organizations, associations, conferences and expos, and local Chambers all offer events and membership opportunities that can be perfect for networking. Nontraditional networking groups are just as, if not more, powerful than traditional networking groups.
The old adage is true – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Think about how you can start building strategic relationships with others in your community so that you and your brand become well-known, well-liked, and well-trusted. As a result, you can expect a steady and consistent increase in customers and referrals.