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Ignite Your Networking Game!

May 23, 2024 | Blog, Strategic Marketing

Marketing, for the most part, is the Long Game. It is the farming part of what we here at Blaze refer to as the marketing mix: hunting, fishing and farming. 

The Hunt

Hunting is comprised of outreach and sales conversations. This is the reward for building relationships and strengthening your reputation through your customer journey. Hunting feeds you today

Reel ‘Em In!

Fishing feeds you tomorrow and often results from the connections you’ve made and the reputation you have built. That Know-Like-Trust Factor comes into play. When people trust you, they tell their friends about you. Past customers, colleagues, alliances, partners, family and friends with the intent to return or recommend can cast a net of influence over their communities and refer you to others who may need your services. This helps your business grow tomorrow

Time to Harvest!

And finally, your promotional presence, that piece of the sales growth puzzle that most marketing firms discuss and support, takes t-i-m-e. This is where you are planting seeds, building awareness, nurturing relationships and watering what you have planted so you can harvest when ripe and ready. This can take months or even years so when you need sales and you need them fast, you cannot and must not overlook the power of networking! Make it part of your hunting and fishing strategies.

Let’s Talk Networking!

You cannot and must not overlook the power of networking!

Let’s be real. Many of you aren’t an extroverted extrovert like me. In fact, for some of us, the mere thought of walking into a room full of strangers can send shivers down our spines. But here’s the thing: whether you love it or loathe it, networking is an essential tool for growing your business and expanding your horizons. 

Have you heard the saying, “Networking is as good or bad as the person who happens to be doing it at that moment”? Well, truer words were never spoken! But we’re here to make sure you’re a networking success with this guide to building lasting connections.

Building Relationships That Last

After meeting someone at a networking event, wedding, backyard barbecue, or any other get-together, we will most likely friend them on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, connect with them on LinkedIn, or any of the above. Building relationships has never been easier—or quicker! I may not see you for years but I am informed! I know you have become engaged, bought a house, went on vacation, or adopted a dog, all because you friended me on Facebook or I follow you on IG. Thanks to the magic of social media, we’re bridging the gap between acquaintances and lifelong pals faster than ever before, all while renewing relationships that in another day and time, would have fallen by the wayside.

Now, what about networking?

Networking is like planting seeds of connection that grow into fruitful relationships. It’s about more than just exchanging business cards; it’s about fostering genuine conversations and collaborations, and building trust while staying true to yourself.  

To nurture your network, consider attending industry events, joining professional organizations, volunteering, and participating in online communities relevant to your field.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to people online through platforms like LinkedIn or industry forums as they offer valuable resources for making connections and expanding your network. 

Many networking groups, masterminds, associations, and philanthropic organizations are incredible networking opportunities where you can find people who share a common interest, “know people who know people, and are your people. You can find them in your local communities or join online to save drive time when getting face time!

One such organization with a ton of resources is BNI (Business Networking International). This organization is a networking powerhouse that believes in the power of connections, collaboration, and commitment. As such, it has its own formula that you can adapt to any networking situation.

Let’s add some fuel to your networking fire with the building blocks of your network with the 4 C’s: Commitment, Credibility, CEUs, and Contacts & Customers!

  • Commitment: Be in it to win it! When it comes to networking, half-hearted efforts just won’t cut it. It’s all about showing up and showing the world what you’re made of. Let’s say you walk into a networking event with your chest puffed out—confidence radiating from every pore. You’re not there to make small talk and swap business cards; you’re there to conquer, to thrive, to leave your mark on the world. That, my friends, is the power of commitment.
  • Credibility: Want to be the go-to person in your network? It’s all about those 1:1’s! Train your colleagues, aka your sales force, on what to listen for, what to say, how to introduce you, and how to follow up to reinforce the relationship. They should sing your praises from the rooftops. Trust me; it pays off!
  • Chapter Education Units: Knowledge is power, and in the world of networking, it’s also currency! Learn More to Earn More. Educate yourself and develop professionally and personally to watch your expertise—and your network—grow by leaps and bounds.
  • Contacts & Customers: New blood; new opportunities! Whether it’s guests, visitors, or referrals, every connection counts.  How many new customers do you want or need? If everyone in your networking chapter introduces you to ONE new potential customer, that can add up quickly! Imagine 40 or 50 new contacts that could result in designed alliances, power partnerships, or as some savvy business owners say, “your PB&J Partners.” Imagine if you could generate those meaningful introductions and resulting conversations quarterly, monthly, or even weekly, as needed!

The Follow-Up and Follow-Through: The Communication Cocktail 

On a daily basis, I communicate with people in approximately ten different ways. The most common are text messaging, group text, phone calls, e-mails out the whazoo, Facebook, Facebook group pages, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, FaceTime, Instagram, Zoom/Teams/Google Meet, Google Chat, and LinkedIn. 

Other apps, such as What’s App, GroupMe, Voxer, Twitter, TikTok, UQuiz, and Kik, are other means of meeting and connecting with people. It can be downright overwhelming!

But hey, does online mean informal? Not necessarily! It’s all about finding the right medium for the right message. You are responsible for your delivery and you can’t read the tone in an email or text. In fact, most people receive messages the way they are at the time vs. how you intend. Remember, it depends on the receiver and the vibe you’re aiming for!

Are you ready to set the networking world ablaze? Check out any of these networking opportunities in your own area and comment to add any we may have missed. Don’t forget alumni associations, trade organizations, community organizations, philanthropic-minded associations, Chambers of Commerce, and your local Small Business Administration or Department of Commerce. 

Nurture your network(s)!

When you do, you’ll find that the sparks of opportunity can quickly turn into flames of success. 🔥

Reach out if you’d like to connect to network. I’m always looking for the J to add to my PB!

Let's Connect

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