In order for your business to grow you need customers right? Unfortunately people don’t just magically show up at your business’s doorstep out of the blue.
With a little bit of hard work and creativity you can improve networking and marketing skills to expand your customer base, however, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.
What happens if you stop getting referrals when they account for more than 75% of your business? Do you have additional networks you can use to drive more sales?
Even if one way of networking is working really well, it never hurts to put yourself out there to get as much exposure for your business as possible. Here are some of the best ways to network and grow your business:
Digital marketing covers a wide array of marketing services but essentially it is how people find you online. You can start building a digital marketing presence by creating a website and setting up social media accounts but it shouldn’t stop there.
To increase the chances of people finding your business online, you should also make sure your website is optimized for search engines (SEO), continually create great content for your blog and marketing campaigns, and build an email list to convert potential customers and reward loyal followers.
Your website and marketing materials can be seen online even when your business is closed so take advantage of the marketing exposure.
Local Business Groups
Your local chamber of commerce and other organizations like Business Network International (BNI) will usually host weekly or monthly meeting for business owners to come together and network with other business owners.
This is a great way to spread the word about your business and become an active member in your community. The more people know about your business and you personally as an owner, the more likely they will be to recommend your services to their family, friends, and customers.
Most of these connections can become mutual beneficial as you can refer your customers to their companies as well.
It can be intimidating at first to put yourself out there especially if you don’t like speaking in public or are a little shy. On the other hand, you also don’t want to come off as too pushy or only talk about yourself.
Think of networking like a first date. You want to spend more time focusing on what the other person has to say then just talking about yourself. Don’t ask for a favor from a person you just met, nurture the relationship first.
Also make sure to also help support their business as well so the relationship isn’t one sided. Be confident about your services, you wouldn’t have started your business if you didn’t believe in your work. All you have to do is show that and let your work speak for itself.
Jose Gutierrez explains the power of building business relationships in this TEDx talk.
The Power of Relationship Building | Jose Gutierrez | TEDxBentleyU
Another way to grow your business is to become a sponsor for a local event. Nonprofit events are always looking for donations to support their events. In exchange, you will usually receive an advertisement placement for your business at the event and be included in their marketing materials. This is a great way to get more exposure for your business and show the public that you are committed to helping out the community.
Depending on your type of business, you can also giveaway free samples or coupons for your business at the event to attract even more potential customers. Some sponsorships will also qualify as a charitable donation will you can use as a deduction on your businesses taxes to offset costs.
Testimonials / Word of Mouth
Your happy customers are one of the most important tools for networking and growing your business. Happy customers are more inclined to recommend your services to their friends and family.
You can also use their testimonials on your website and marketing material to add credibility and show that your business is trustworthy. You can even set up a referral program to reward customers when they recommend your services to others.
Most people prefer to buy goods or services from a company with positive reviews so they don’t get a subpar product. Take advantage of the positive reviews you’ve already received.
Business Marketing Partnerships
Depending on your type of business you can partner with complimentary businesses to help expand each others’ customer base. For example, if you are a local shop on a busy street, you can partner with the other shop owners to start an event like Small Business Saturday.
You can split the marketing costs and all use the same loyalty punch card to motivate customers to visit multiple shops. You could also co-sponsor an event together to split costs and support one another. This goes along with referrals but shows the public that your business fully trusts and respects the other businesses.
Networking your business can be very overwhelming and intimidating as first, but once you jump you’ll see that it can have a significant impact in growing your business.
Digital Marketing Is a Networking Tool
Digital marketing is a very important networking tool because most people will search for services online first. Plus even when your business is closed, people can still access your website and marketing materials at anytime day or night. You can utilize local business meetups to network with other business owners in person or sponsor an event. Creating business partnerships can mutually benefit you and other businesses and drive more traffic to your businesses. And last but not least, remember to utilize testimonials to add credibility to your services and reward loyal customers when they refer you to friends and family.
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