My strategy for in-person networking is to attend and help organize local networking events. Network events can be business breakfast, golf tournaments, trade shows or even just having lunch with a customer. Each spring local hospitals, charities and chambers host golf tournaments, local business people attend to have fun, be seen and to network with others. I am not a golfer, so I always volunteer at these events and do this for the same reason people go the event to golf. Volunteering at events gives you more exposure and sometimes more opportunity to network. Also, it shows that you support local business and charities in the community. I don’t feel the need to go to all the networking events in my local market, the local women’s group has a lot of network marketing members, they are not my customer, therefore I usually do not attend. The local chamber of commerce does monthly business breakfasts and evening meet and greets. These events are more for business owners and I get more leads and sales from attending. In my opinion, it is still important to have face to face interaction with customers and to be able to put a face to a name. I enjoy going to networking events and learning more about my customers and what is going on in their business and personal life. This is an article I found on The Importance of Face-to-Face Networking in a Digital World, good read.
Online networking will have a completely different strategy. The most important strategy I have about online networking is to keep it personal. You can make it more personal by knowing whom you are talking to. Are you talking to business owners and decision makers or are you talking to an employee in charge of updating the businesses social media platforms? I find LinkedIn a good online networking platform. Business owners are more likely to update their own LinkedIn site and there are lots of groups to join to get conversations going. Online networking like anything else online it should be short and to the point, I find when people are reading what you have to say it is easier to lose them then if they are actually listening to what you have to say.
This week I am going through a career change, I will no longer be selling advertising for the local newspaper. I will be managing the local health food store and starting my social media marketing business. Over the next 6 months, I will be attending more networking events for health and wellness. These events will be put on by local fitness centers. health professionals and suppliers. I will also be attending the local chamber of commerce events, Christmas wine and cheese, business breakfasts and one on ones with local business people. At the store, I will be creating workshops, demonstrations and one on one appointments that will all be a form of networking.
I prefer face to face networking. I am a very social person and I have found in the past that face to face networking works in my market and with my audience. The more I learn about online networking I am sure I will see it also being successful. I enjoy meeting and learning about people, I have only connected with one person outside the discussion board within this course, I am sure it would have been different if we all had of been sitting in a classroom. What do you prefer online or face to face?