Networking. The word that causes millions of eye rolls a day. A word that makes even those who do it best, cringe. If you’re keeping up (and you SHOULD be keeping up) with technology (i.e. social media), branding and other ways to grow your business, the latest way to expand your reach is to be an “influencer”. What is an influencer? Wikipedia defines it as a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers and focuses marketing activities around those influencers. Are you an influencer? If so, you have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of your authority, knowledge, position or relationship with your audience. You aren’t an influencer? Hmmm. Are you doing enough? Okay, enough with the questions, let’s get back to the word “networking”.
Any influencer attained that title through some form of networking, whether it be online via their social media accounts, email marketing and contacting others in their profession. Technology certainly has changed the way we all do business and move about in the world and it is critical to remain up to date in all of the ways technology can bring you business.
But sometimes, nothing beats the good old fashioned face to face type of networking. Networks are the key to your success. The old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” rings true. There are plenty of ways you can do this simply by closing your laptop and getting out of your office to MEET people. Join your city’s Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club and then actually go to those meetings. Contact their membership committees and volunteer to speak about your area of expertise.
People love criminal justice television shows, and they will be fascinated at what you do on a daily basis. These people are your best audience. Their members are also active business people in the community. They may not need your services now, but in the future, they may or they may come into contact with people who will. Leave a great impression and be approachable.
It’s a new year and time for fresh ideas. Is your business a business or just a hobby? Is your business profitable? Why not? Take an honest assessment of what you are really doing to grow your business AND to make it profitable. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself. What skills do I possess in order to grow my business? If you find you don’t have expertise in a certain area, like social media, hire someone. How much time do you spend on building your business? You can’t just put up a website and hope business is going to find you. Do you actively seek and promote your business? Take a look at how you are interacting with your clients, colleagues and industry contacts. Reach out and check-in/follow-up with former clients.
Once you take an assessment of what you’re doing daily to promote and grow your business, adjust where necessary and remember: NETWORK! NETWORK! NETWORK! Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!