IN A market where the consumer is well informed and spending is scattered across sectors, it's critical to continue marketing and to be innovative about promoting your products and services if you want to maintain sales.
A good place to start is to look at alternative, low-cost strategies to complement your traditional marketing activities and add to your other strategies.
Networking, that's right - meeting, greeting, mingling and chatting - is a cost-effective strategy that can produce a higher return on investment than you could ever realise. And yes, this is about face-to-face relationship building, which works in tandem with your social media networking activities.
The reality is that many business owners at the moment are actively looking for help, support, or products to increase their performance in this tight economy.
They may be looking for new suppliers - those who can offer a better service or price than they currently receive. They may be looking to joint-venture, create industry partnerships or establish affiliate relationships.
Don't be one of those people who stands in the shadows and who won't talk to anyone or one of those people who bulldoze their way into a networking function.
You need to be the relationship builder. Connect with people and be generous and altruistic. Give advice and look out for referrals.
My five networking do's and don'ts:
- Come prepared. Look presentable, bring your business cards, name tag, card folder and some spare pens
- Remember no strings attached. "Give. Give. Give."
- Quality over quantity - meet fewer quality contacts rather than everyone
- Always thank people for their referral
- Keep in contact with your networking contacts.
- Don't try to sell. Build relationships at first.
- Do not sit with friends or associates. You are wasting an opportunity.
- Don't stand in the corner waiting for people to approach you. Be proactive.
- Don't schedule an appoint directly before or after a networking event. Being pre-occupied by something else will make your networking activities suffer.
- Do not talk about work unless you are asked. If so, be straight to the point.
Networking is all about face-to-face relationship building, which, when used in conjunction with a social media presence, is a powerful combination.
The experience of the potential buyer must be consistent over both media so be clear that you are walking the talk in the networking environment - the messages must be the same.
Remember - a confused shopper is less likely to buy.
You can start networking at...
- Social sporting events
- Social gatherings
- Community group meetings and events
- Educational gatherings
- Business clubs
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