Step Out Of The Box..
Don't fall into a trap. With a little outside-the-box thinking and some prioritizing, you can develop an enviable list of contacts. From pinpointing networking opportunities in your corner of the world to jumping on internet forums and groups, these ideas will help you build strong, worthwhile business relationships. Here are 5 Creative Networking Ideas To Build Connections.
Work Your Current Network
Think you don’t have any business connections? You’re probably wrong. Friends, family, former colleagues, the owner of your favorite coffee shop or the parent of your kid’s bestie are all potential contacts. So, talk business with your circle to make sure the people you see and interact with the most actually know what you do. And when an opportunity presents itself, offer help.
Remember: The world is a whole lot smaller than it seems. Aunt Josie might have no need for a website, but her best friend or co-worker’s daughter may be launching a boutique and very interested in working with you.
Get Involved in Networks and Social Media Groups
Perfect for people with limited time and minimal access to in-person options, industry-specific forums and social media groups are networking gold mines. Start searching through LinkedIn and Facebook for groups related to your work and those geared toward entrepreneurs. Forums and portfolio sites also offer loads of opportunities. Bonus: Branching out, away from social media, expands your pool of potential connections.
Joining loads of groups and forums at once makes it difficult to actively participate in conversations, so start small. Join one group and dedicate a daily coffee break to perusing comments and dipping your toe in conversations. Offer value with every comment, joke around, support other members and watch your list of contacts grow.
Find or Create A Local Networking Group
Platforms like Meetup aren’t just for finding people to take a cooking class with or enjoy a lazy float down the river on a Sunday afternoon. They’re also perfect for putting together a casual meeting or more in-depth group discussion with other small-business owners and entrepreneurs in your area.
If there aren’t any existing groups nearby that pique your interest, consider starting your own. Chances are there are plenty of people toiling away at home or burning the midnight oil in your area who’d love to have a supportive, mentally stimulating get-together.
Check Out Co working Groups or Collaboration Platforms
Physical co-working spaces and collaboration platforms like Slack give you the opportunity to work alongside people across industries and make valuable connections with like-minded, passionate individuals.
Co-working spaces charge a relatively small daily, weekly or monthly fee to set up your office amongst entrepreneurs and creatives from various backgrounds. Whether you want to settle in to an open work space, secure a private office or put together a team, the ability to see potential contacts daily makes developing relationships easier. A quick Google search will let you know what’s available near you. Or, check out sites like Coworker or Liquid Space for options. If there's aren't any co-working spaces in your area or you're partial to the quiet of working from home, consider joining a collaboration platform. As you build your network and work with others on projects, use the platform to stay connected during slow times or when you need a fresh set of eyes. Check out these tips for other suggestions.
Get Involved In Your Community
Even if most of your business is online, you can still find worthwhile people to connect with right in your own town. Make it a point to reach out to and talk with new and established business owners.
Keys To Successful Networking
Now that you know where to look for networking opportunities, how do you build lasting, mutually-beneficial relationships? Be supportive, listen closely and prioritize managing the relationships you develop.
Work active networking into your schedule just like you do every other business task.
Block off a set amount of time once a week to make friendly check-in calls or send out a catch-up email. And, make sure you respond to messages and calls with a similar level of urgency as you would a client or customer.
Time conversations and events so they coincide with when you’re most energetic and engaged.
Avoid scheduling midweek evening meetups if you’re typically exhausted and ready to meld with the couch at that hour. And don’t try to fit phone calls in first thing in the morning if you’re the type who needs a cup (or six) of coffee to form coherent sentences.
**Ask questions, listen intently and provide value. **The back-and-forth opportunities that networking provide are invaluable, especially for self-starters. But remember to open your ears and close your mouth. People will be more apt to help you if they feel heard and encouraged.
**Be yourself, not the business version of yourself. **If you attend a meetup, set up shop in a co-working space or dive into an online community with “always be selling!” in your head, you’ll gain minimal traction. Friendliness earns you more insight, referrals and ideas than playing the role of salesperson.
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If just thinking about a social media strategy is giving you heartburn, don't worry. Good content ideas are all around you if you know where to look. To help make the leap into the world of social media marketing and online selling easier, take a peek at the tips below.
If you're a small business owner, you've probably heard about the importance of content marketing and social media marketing for growing your business. But getting started on social media can be a challenge. Which platforms should you be on? How do you know if what you're sharing is resonating with your audience? Most important of all, what content should you be sharing to begin with?
If just reading these questions is giving you heartburn, don't worry. Good content ideas are all around you if you know where to look. To help make the leap into the world of social media marketing here are five quick content suggestions for getting started.
1. Customer Testimonials
Positive customer testimonials can be hugely valuable in your marketing (so if you're not collecting them, you should start). Even better, with just a few small tweaks, they can be reused as great social media content. Just share a snippet of a positive testimonial over a nice product or lifestyle photo.
Don't have Photoshop? That's no problem. There are a number of free or low cost apps that let you manipulate photos to include nice filters, captions and more. Canva is also handy for creating perfect images for your website, which you can then reuse on social media. In addition to testimonials, you can caption your photos with inspirational or humorous quotes or other content that you think will connect with your followers.
2. Behind-the-Scenes Photos
It's a scientific fact that people love seeing how things are made. Okay, maybe there's no scientific research behind this claim, but it's definitely true that behind-the-scenes content is one of the easiest things for small business owners to share online. If you're a maker, the odds are good that you're spending a significant portion of your day creating products anyway. Why not document that process in either photos or video?
Giving your customers a behind-the-scenes look into your operations will help them not only understand how and why your product is better, but also give them insight into you and your employees.
3. Employee Profiles
Taking customers behind-the-scenes to show products are made is one way to build an authentic connection with your customers. Another way is to highlight your employees (including yourself). To build a great brand, you need to have personality, and there's no better way to let it show than in a fun, candid series showing the men and women who live out your brand values every day.
Employee profiles can take a lot of forms, from short videos to blog interviews. Maybe you can turn over the reins of your social media account to one of your employees for a day. Experiment with different formats until you find one that fits your brand personality and lets your employees stand out.
4. Tips and Tricks
The internet is already filled with tips, tricks, and all kinds of “life hacks," so it may not seem worth the effort to share content like this for your business. But showing your customers how best to use your products or services is more than just good content, it's good for your brand.
One of the most important components of content marketing is making sure that the content you share is providing value to the audience. Instructional information, tips and tricks and other “how-to" content helps show that you're not just interested in boosting your sales, but also in improving their lives. Developing this type of content is also fairly easy. After all, who else knows your product better than you?
5. Caption Contest
Finally, a quick content idea that is sure to generate engagement is a contest or special promotion. There are a lot of different types of contests you can run on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but one of the easiest to do is a caption contest.
While you're documenting behind-the-scenes content, capture some fun, candid photos of yourself or your team. You can then share these on social media and ask your followers to caption them. The person who shares the funniest caption wins a prize. It's that simple. Many brands rely on these types of quick contests to get engagement from their followers and it's a fun way to show off your brand's personality.
At the end of the day, social media and content marketing are just tools to help promote your business. They don't have to be scary or complicated to be effective, so if you're just getting started try some of these tactics on for size. The more you experiment, the better you'll get and before long you'll be running your social media channels like a true pro.
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