Hello and welcome to my business basics series of posts about starting a business and my A – Z of what I consider to be the basics that you need to be working on. This is the fourteenth post in the series so obviously – N
You can catch up with the ones you missed by using the search bar in this blog.
N is for Network
In this day and age of the internet, it is easy to forget that most of our initial customers come from those we meet whilst out and about. Our first customers are usually people we have met at an event, a show, a convention or other meeting place.
Most new businesses do not get their first customers from purely online activities. Sorry but your going to actually have to go out and meet people. Ugh!
When I say network, I don’t necessarily mean that you have to go to networking events and stand there like an idiot for 60 seconds while everyone stares at you and evaluates your elevator pitch – although this is not necessarily a bad place to start as it will hone your skills in pitch delivery and you can get some great feedback too. But here’s what else you can do…
Join a group of people who are interested in learning what you already know. Sneaky I know but here’s the thing…
Networking events aren’t ideal places for you to sell your products or services because everyone is there trying to sell theirs. No one goes to a networking event with a view to buying something.
Okay, so yes, you might learn a thing or two while you are there, especially if they have a good speaker. But honestly, for sales, forget it.
Now, back to our group. Let’s say you sell photographic equipment. Wouldn’t it be great to join a photography group and take all your amazing equipment with you each week? You already have a room full of people who are interested in your product. It is a fantastic way to show off your merchandise in a totally NON SALESY way.
By virtue of the group, the members are obviously going to ask you about your equipment and what it does, how much it costs and more importantly, WHERE THEY CAN BUY IT! Magic. You have made a sale without even trying.
Another way to network is to join forums or Facebook groups online – yes this is back to the virtual world but with a difference. Here’s the thing…
Just like the photography group, everyone in the group has a common interest. Let’s say you are a book-keeper and you join a group for small local business people. You join in the conversations that naturally occur in the group and you look out for those that include questions about tax, VAT, making tax digital, best book-keeping software etc.
Now these questions you can answer. Answer them fully and give some hints or tips or offer links to helpful website (or even better, a blog post on your own website). Pretty soon they are no longer a stranger but come to you for advice. You can then offer your services as someone who has already proven that they can help them.
Local support groups is another way of networking. Volunteer programmes are also a really good way to get to know people and find out what they need. For example, let’s say you are a software developer who is looking for their first client so that they can get a testimonial.
The people you are volunteering for may benefit from an APP. Offer to create one for them in exchange for their testimonial. You could then ask if they would like you to enhance their website and there’s your next testimonial.
Trying to network on social media sites is very time consuming and we often don’t get any return on that investment. It takes a long time to build followers on Facebook and Instagram and even when you have them it’s Facebook that gets to decide whether or not they see your posts.
Think about networking as marketing, because it is. You are going out and marketing yourself and your products and services. You are letting people see who is behind the business or brand. You are building relationships and gathering leads. You may also pick up a few referrals too.
So the message of this post is GET OUT THERE! Go and meet people. Have some real conversations that add value and give support to others. Let people get to know, like and trust you. This way you are more likely to get more customers much more quickly, then you can build your online marketing strategies based on real testimonies and sales.
If you need some ideas or inspiration for your online marketing and live in the UK, I have a 5-day course that helps you create and implement a complete online marketing strategy that is both hugely effective and totally free to use. Find out more about it here – it’s totally awesome and it’s not just me saying that 🙂
Marketing is a way of growing your business by letting people know what you do and how you can help them. By breaking your business growth down into 3 simple steps this will help with your marketing as you will know exactly what you are trying to achieve at any particular time.
I would suggest that you start with using your marketing to generate leads. Leads = customers so this is a very useful strategy. We all know that converting leads into sales can be difficult, so the more leads we have, the more sales we can potentially make right?
Okay, so if you are ready to ramp up your business and want to learn how to start generating more leads for your business every day, I have just the thing for you. It is a free guide that teaches you the first step in my 3 step system to a six-figure business.
It takes you through the whole process step-by-step so that you can start working on it and seeing results right away. To get your free copy just complete the form below.