Utilize your network to promote your business
I like to call this network marketing. It’s primarily developing a strategy to use your established network to market your business, find clients, and cultivate prospects. It needs to be a mutually beneficial strategy. If you use your network, provide them value as well. Below are a few tips on using your network to find new business.
Turn your family and friends into your evangelists!
The first place to start is with the people that know you well, your family and friends. They all want to see you succeed. Turn them into your word of mouth marketers. When you share content on social media, have them like and share it too. Sharing creates a significant impact on your social media and local marketing. They have friends that have friends that could be potential customers. Use them. Choose 5-10 people and ask for their help.
Before you ask for something from your network, give them something of value
When you are creating a business, tell everyone you interact with on a professional level about your business. Including your accountant, attorney, banker, barber/stylist, etc. Let them all know you are open for business and seeking customers. Ask if you can give them your business card, maybe even leave a few extra cards for them to hand out if they come across anyone. Let them know you’ll send people their way too and do that! If you do, ensure that they know you’ve sent them a new customer. This referral exchange creates an informal referral system.
If you don’t have an office, try finding a Co-Working space
Get out of your home or office. Network at a Co-Working facility. Take part in their events. Don’t be the jerk that’s only trying to sell your products and services all the time. Develop relationships first. Help solve a few of your co-workers' problems for free. Then, find an opportunity to offer your services for a fee.
Download your Outlook and LinkedIn contacts into a workable excel
I’m going to assume you have Outlook and LinkedIn contacts. You can download both into a .csv file, then convert it to Excel. Inform your contacts, if they don’t already know, that you have started a new business. There are a few schools of thought here. You can be direct and try to sell them immediately. Or, you can provide your necessary information (website address, service offerings, etc.) and let them know you are producing content they may find valuable. Get them engaged, build a relationship, and then sell. You’ll need to be the judge on the approach to your network.
Segment and prioritize your contacts to develop a Network Marketing Strategy
My recommendation is that you review your contacts and segment them into different groups. Then, develop different approaches for each group. Segmentation will help you create a Network Marketing Strategy. As an example, Segment 1 you meet in person, maybe buy them lunch. They are mentors, advisors, or potential prospects. Segment 2, you call on the phone (if you have their number). They are people that can introduce you to other contacts or live outside your state. Segment 3 you send a personal email. These are people you respect, maybe don't know as well, but want to develop a relationship. If you are starting out, don’t spam anyone with a generic mass email. Take the time to email them with a personal note.
A few other words of advice
- Don’t always ask a network contact for advice without ever offering to pay for it.
- Example: If you keep asking for legal advice from a contact that's a lawyer. It might be different if this person is your mentor. If not, you should pay for his/her advice.
- Don’t have alternative motives.
- Example: Scheduling a meeting with someone in your network for advice, but then using the meeting as an opportunity to sell him/her something.
- Make introductions for other people in your network
- Reciprocity goes a long way
If you use your network strategically, it will go a long way to helping you grow your business. As you do this, introductions will happen, and your network will grow. Keep track of those too. You never know where your next customer will pop up. Also, you may end up with a tremendous opportunity, but don’t have the full resources to tackle it on your own. If you have a reliable network, they can help and support you with resources.
This concludes the in-depth 12 Steps to Executing a Free Digital Marketing Strategy. With your comments and feedback, I'll continue to update each step. Sign up for my newsletter or check back for more valuable content.