3 benefits to networking as part of a marketing strategy

During an interview I was listening to on breakfast radio the other day I heard the interviewee use the phrase “Be interested, not interesting” (A take on the original phrase “to be interesting, be interested”, coined by Dale Carnegie author of ‘How to win friends and influence people’).

Having read lots of different industry books this phrase still resonates with me, especially where networking as a marketing strategy is concerned.  Being a generous listener is a great asset in networking situations (interestingly one that Introverts excel at in a widely thought of extrovert situation).

Networking has been key to growing my business and I have learnt a great deal.  It can be exhausting, with early mornings and late nights (preferably not in the same day!) ranging from casual chats in the pub to more structured events with speaker sessions and presentations.

There are heaps of different groups (both online and face to face), you need to find what fits, what feels right and commit to what you can.  And much like your own marketing, consistency is key…I tried many before settling on three groups (one of which is online) where I was comfortable knowing I could consistently show up and participate.

So, with some networking know-how behind me, here are 3 tips for building a strategic approach to networking as part of a marketing strategy:-

  1. Build Relationships & Reputation

The first rule of networking as a marketing strategy should be to develop relationships with people.  This encourages trust, which in turn builds reputation.

It is about who else the people in the room know.  Over time, nurturing these relationships could bring business opportunities you would otherwise have not been considered for… driven by recommendation, built on trust.

A business does not thrive without customers and there is a reason that the cliché ‘People buy from people’ is one of the most used.

2. Gain new perspective & fresh ideas

Recent tweaks to my own business model have been driven from ideas sparked during conversations whilst networking.  From being interested in what the other person is saying, asking questions and seeking learnings from their own experiences.

And it works both ways – It is really rewarding to be able to reciprocate by throwing out a couple of suggestions that sparks a potential business idea for someone else! 

3. Plan ahead – everybody can easily become nobody

Walking into a room full of people without knowing there are at least one or two you want to talk to means everybody in the room becomes a nobody.

You will never get around the room to speak to everyone so plan ahead.  Connect with at least one person beforehand or ask for the delegate list, that way you can ask for them on arrival and hey, first conversation sparked!

Set goals for the event as you would set goals to measure the success of your business – ask yourself “What do I want to achieve from this?  It might be to leave with three new connections or put yourself forward for a presenting opportunity… just ‘turning up’ is not an approach I would openly encourage.

Good luck – Here’s to making new connections, seeking new opportunities and your networking working!