Every business has its sales pipeline, and people employed to convert prospects into buyers. In the B2B world, this is often achieved through face to face networking opportunities and relationship building. The web has brought the true sense of the word ‘networking’ to life. It provides the opportunity to network with the masses, build relationships online, and even convert sales online without the need for face to face contact. It allows you to put your brand in front of more people than ever before.
Many businesses are keen to have a social media presence, but are focussing on fast, content, or in other words, just a little something to show they are keeping up with digital marketing. But to truly harness the power of social media – a different mindset and approach is needed. One where the ‘content’ and the ‘conversation’ goes hand in hand, and networking and engaging with prospects online becomes a golden opportunity.
Perhaps the reason social media is rarely compared to traditional networking, is down to the requirement for an entirely different skillset – a varied mix of technical skills for digital management, and creative writing talents for content – as oppose to personal presence and a flair for interpersonal communication.
If you, like many, are a bit perplexed by social media and have not yet assigned a marketing budget for it, perhaps it helps to consider it as part of your ‘networking strategy’ and not just another marketing tactic? The objectives are the same, and follow the ‘know, like and trust’ theory. If you are going to be spending money and resources on your online networking – you will want to make sure your objectives are met, and your key objective is to grow a large following who would potentially spend money with your business. This following will come from engaging with your audience through posts and updates, so that they begin to feel like they know, like and trust your business and ultimately, would choose you as their supplier/for their purchase. But this won’t all happen at once, and building your social presence and gaining followers takes time and patience.
We have put some top tips together for enhanced networking via social media, and compared them to traditional networking methodology:
|ONLINE NETWORKING||TRADITIONAL NETWORKING|
|- Ensure your social media accounts are consistent with their header image/profile image and that your biography contains a ‘value/benefit statement’ that is inspirational and an extension of the header image||- Turning up to a networking event looking smart, wearing a badge with your company logo and armed with business cards and corporate literature – and a ‘value statement’ for when you are asked what you do
- Deliver a presentation to your audience
|- Post influential and inspirational content that will provoke thought and discussion||- Verbally discuss topics with contacts that matter to them and their business and consistently reinforce how your business can help
- Hold a seminar or workshop
|- Use other ‘centres of influence’ – businesses who share the same audience – to discover new potential buyers for your own business||- Scan the event for any potential partners and approach them to discuss opportunities to work together|
|- Review competitors and associated companies’ social media accounts, and take advantage of advanced searches to reveal their followers. Then you can like/follow them and put your brand in front of them||- Keep a beady eye on your prospects and who they are approaching – then plan your own approach|
|- Use the search facility to look for relevant keywords and conversations and reply to individual comments and tweets||- Keep a keen ear on your prospects conversations – then plan your approach and your response to their issues
- Deliver a presentation and hold a Q and A session
|- Comment on discussions relevant to your business, and join conversations across multiple social media channels to build credibility||- Work the room, and build your presence. Be the expert in your field|
|- Build your professional network by inviting your target professionals to connect with you. Then impress them with your posts and updates||- Give out your business cards and any relevant literature. Contact them after the event for follow ups|