Posted by MattMassaro in Blog, Business & Networking, Featured Articles
on Jul 24th, 2012 | 2 comments
This blog post is from my experience and perspective. You may have different experiences and I would welcome hearing yours!
Online Networking and Offline Networking play a huge role in today’s society for business and employment. The old cliche saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” plays its part, being valid with this subject. Different age groups approach these two in different ways but the ones who indulge into both fair a lot better. The power of networking can create solid relationships (and leads) with people for years to come. We are going to explore a little bit of the tools used or that can be used to help with both.
Over the last couple of years I have met with numerous small business owners and professionals. A lot of these small business owners/ professionals were using offline networking to help their business. These include Mixers, Professional Networking Groups, Trade Shows, Downtown Events, and so on. I attended many profeesional networking groups that I was invited to, Chamber of Commerce mixers and events, joined a professional networking group, and attended downtown events/trade shows. I was also invited into a Kiwanis Club and became a member for a short time (moved geologically and couldn’t be a part of it anymore). At just about all of these I was by far the youngest person there, 23 at the time, 24 now. I would say on average the ages started at 35 and went up. However many of the small business owners had very little social media presence, outdated websites, and needed help with their online presence. The ones that I met that embraced these early on and realized how important it was were doing a lot better in their business overall.
Some tips for small business owners/professionals to improve their social presence and web presence: Online Networking Tips
- First and foremost create social media business pages.
- Once created MAKE an effort, even if it’s once a week to go into the pages and respond to any comments that are there. Even if it’s just clicking the “like button” so that your clients/customers/friends are acknowledged. Remember “No Response” is a response and can effect your business negatively.
- If your small business has a physical location make sure that your business comes up on Foursquare and Facebook. When someone checks into your business it’s FREE advertising and shows everyone on their profiles that they are there. You can offer check in deals through those platforms to increase motivation for check ins. Also checking in on these places can also increase scores for people that are into social influence sites/social networking sites such as Empire Avenue (I just made an account on there and have been checking in everywhere to help that score).
- Customized & Optimize pages for your social media profiles to stand out. Make sure your website link, phone numbers, emails, and all of your other information are on there. If you follow my blog here and on MediaCurb I am trying to get more how-to’s for simple and more complex options in the different social media channels.
- Create a blog and integrate social media into your website and overall marketing strategy. If you still do print advertising make sure you have your Facebook and Twitter accounts on there. Sometimes all it takes is just the Facebook or Twitter logo and people will look your business up. Put the Check in on Facebook etc on your window of your business. if you are are a restaurant have a little stand in the middle of the table with the icons, saying “Get ___ for checking in on Facebook.” You get the idea. Put your social media profiles into your newsletter and email signature. Make sure this is all integrated into your website so that you have share options and direct follow buttons on there. The benefit of getting your clients on social media is that you have them FOREVER unless you post too much or directly just sell to them (apparently people don’t like that anymore :p). If you don’t have a blog GET ONE. Blogs show up on search engines and drive a lot of traffic to your website. Show people you know your small business, give useful information based on your business and what your followers want to hear. Don’t post cat pictures if everyone on your profiles are dog lovers! Also if you use the Google Plus +1 button on your website that will help your website get higher in the search results. Not a lot of small businesses (or even medium and large businesses) are doing that right now.
- Once your presence is up really engage on the different platforms. Share useful information. Utilize these online networking tips and connect with other small business owners/professionals on LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter/Google+.
Being apart of the younger generation and involved in a fair share of offline networking I also have some offline networking tips for my peers. These offline networking tips could really go for any age group as the online networking tips can too. No one ever taught me how to get a job, how to handle finances, how to make a budget, and least of all how to utilize offline networking. There may be a lot of others out there like that. I’m not going to get into tips on getting a job in this post (it’s already long enough) but I will have a future blog for that.
Here are some tools and tips to use to get involved in: Offline Networking Tips
- Join MeetUp.com and find some local groups. There’s ALL sorts of different meet ups on there. Some involve drinking if that helps motivate you!
- Join LinkedIn if you haven’t already and find local groups. I just recently joined a couple for the San Diego area. Members will post events/groups etc in there. Also LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ have event features so watch out for those. LinkedIn members LOVE networking online & offline!
- Look up your local Chamber of Commerce website, the city’s main website, and any Downtown organizations. Often if you are not a member they charge $5-$10 or around that to get into these events (usually includes 1-2 drink tickets too). Walk around and network with people. Make sure you have business cards and keep your main focus on how you can help other people. Introduce people to each other at the event and afterwards. Try to not think inward about yourself or talk about yourself too much, at least until after you have heard them first. Create an elevator speech beforehand (look up how to online or ask me and I will point you the right way). These elevator pitches are 30-60 seconds and usually involve your busines, what you do, what good referrals to you would be, etc. Elevator speeches can go a long way for offline networking. I’ve been to some mixers where without any warning they just had everyone go around the room and say their elevator speech.
- Look up professional networking groups online in your area. Often times these groups will not allow duplicates of the same profession. If you are patient and find one then these can pay off and are worth your time. They usually let you and invite you to the first one free and you decide if you want to continue after that. Sometimes just going to the free ones, one time will introduce you to people and you can get leads right there.
- Look up other local websites where the community posts on. They will often post local events that are going on as well. One example is the Patch websites. If you can blog on there. I just made two blog posts on there and they are already on Google and people are emailing me. The first one I posted was “3 free one hour social media training sessions.” You can steal that idea if you want!
- If you have extra time try to join a non-profit organization. A lot of small business owners/professionals are involved in them and you meet a lot of people out in the community doing events to raise money. This is a double bonus as you get to make a difference in your community at the same time.
That’s enough for today. I will continue to give more online networking tips & offline networking tips on specific areas from this post in upcoming blog posts. Just about everything in this post I could go into detail to show you how step by step.
Connect with me and stay tuned for more Online Networking Tips & Offline Networking Tips!
Personal Facebook: http://facebook.com/matt.massaro