If you want to make it far, then no matter the industry, you’re going to have to get used to networking. However, if you’re trying to become a successful marketer or run your own marketing agency, then you better get working on your networking skills!
While networking is important in so many areas of business and life, it is particularly important if you want to run your own business or digital marketing agency. The ability to network is one of the most crucial skills any entrepreneur can have, and putting yourself out there in order to represent your brand is one of the keys to success.
That’s why in this article I’ll discuss the basics of networking and why it is imperative to your business.
Networking To Land More Clients
What Does It Take?
Networking might not come as easily to some as it does to others, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. There are certainly some innate attributes that make an individual more personable and therefore more successful at networking. Some of the characteristics of a good networker include the ability to be:
- A good listener
- On top of following up or staying in touch
If you’re having trouble connecting with people, then try evaluating your own abilities and strengths. If you know that the above mentioned attributes might not be your strongest, then be prepared to do a little work on these areas.
This will likely be the most difficult part of networking if these don’t already come natural to you. However, some of the most rewarding challenges involve getting out of your comfort zone to work on your weaknesses.
A big part of networking is about attitude and going in with the right mindset. Don’t get down on yourself, and work at looking forward to the people you might meet and learning how you can help them, and how they can help you in return.
Make a Plan and Set Goals
We’ve spoken often about the importance of making a plan before immersing yourself in any project, and networking is no different. Write down what your goals in terms of networking and outline how you will be able to achieve them. Even if it’s something small and basic such as determining how many leads you want per month?
Ask yourself what exactly it is that you want to achieve, not only through networking, but even big picture and determine how networking how help get you there. For instance, if one thing you want to do is to land more real estate agent clients, then you can look to attend events where many realtors convene. Also ask yourself where your ideal customers/prospects go to network, and then go there yourself.
Another big question to ask yourself is how you can build your image and your business’s image? Or, what you want this business to be. This could mean focusing your energy on increasing an online presence and making connections online, or it could mean getting involved on a local level and volunteering the community to give back. If it works for you, it could even be a combination of the two.
Now that you’ve set some goals for your networking and your business in the long-term, it’s time to get out there are start being proactive. You’re not going to get new business or meet new contacts by chance—you’re going to have to make a real effort.
Find out what the best groups or events in your idea might be in order for you to meet the goals you’ve set for yourself. Stay proactive by looking for new events every month, and attend at least one or two new groups or events per month. Most importantly, make sure you bring business cards with you to these events, and just to be safe, you should really have a business card on you at ALL times—you never know when a good opportunity or interesting contact might present itself.
Set a goal of meeting 5 or more new people at every event you attend. This might sound intimidating, but remember—everyone there is just as interested in networking as you are. Make sure you’re not just sitting down as soon as you arrive and ignoring everyone. Get up and mingle! Or if you do decide to sit, make sure you sit by people you don’t know, to continue giving yourself the opportunity to chat.
Beyond simply attending events, you can get even more involved by joining a committee or board of a group of particular interest to you. Not only will this help get your name out there, it’s also a great way to add credibility to your brand or business.
No matter what actions you take in order to be proactive, the most important thing to remember is to be open to new people and to be willing to give so that you can receive.
Find Networking Groups
If you’re ready to get out there and make use of all these tips, but still don’t quite know where to start, here are some great examples of networking groups to look into. Look for the local faction of these groups in your area:
- BNI (Business Networking International) – a business networking and referral organization with over 211,000 members worldwide.
- Mastermind groups – peer-to-peer mentoring groups where members help each other solve problems and advise each other. If you can’t find anything like this in your area, then start one yourself!
- Chamber of Commerce – not-for-profit membership-based organization designed to assist and promote the local business community.
- Rotary Club – organization that aims to bring businesses and community leaders that aims to provide humanitarian services.
- Kiwanis – service club that aims to raise money to strengthen communities and help children.
If you follow these helpful steps and tips, then you’ll be making contacts and landing new clients for your marketing agency or business in no time!
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