Networking and marketing may be similar but they are definitely not one in the same.
Networking is the art of making acquaintances and sharing information about yourself, your business or product. Its purpose is to build relationships that offer a mutual opportunity for both parties to prosper.
Marketing is publicizing a service or product with the intent of closing a sale.
In promoting my business, I use networking efforts far more than sales and marketing tactics mainly because it is fun and I love people.
I don’t like to be face-to-face or on the phone with a pushy salesperson and I do not enjoy hard-sell printed ads that rude methods to persuade me to buy a product. Many times these ads are boastful and make promises that I know cannot be fulfilled by the product.
On the other hand, I do enjoy reading content-rich articles or listening to an online seminar or teleclass that offers good information even if there is a subtle sales plug in it. I also like to talk with people and find out more about them and what they do. Many times that involves the swapping of information about the services and/or products we each offer. This information is shared for the purpose of building a friendship and helping one another grow our businesses.
By letting me know what you do or have to offer, I will keep my eyes and ears open for someone I meet who might benefit from your products or services. In the same manner, the person I share my information with may know someone who needs a writer and because we have a business and personal relationship, that person will recommend me. After all, most people would rather utilize the services of an individual or company who has been recommended by someone we trust rather than hiring someone from the Yellow Pages. For example: if you need an auto repair would you rather take your car to the mechanic your friend has been satisfied with for years or would you rather drive into a greasy garage not knowing anything about the reputation of the company?
Ways to network
I enjoy reading newsletters, so I have subscribed to several. In them I find people and services that interest me and I take the time to email or call the person to say hello. Many times I’ll offer to put an announcement in my newsletter or ask to interview them for my podcast, thereby furthering their opportunity to have their name or product in front of people on my subscriber list. In return, I have content-rich material to offer my readers and listeners. I always use a permission-based service to launch my newsletters. Spamming is no way to network or build a relationship.
Where to Network
The possibilities are endless. If you meet someone at the gym, or at school, or church, or in your social club, or while dining out, you have an opportunity to make a new friend and do some networking. Think of the times when you have taken a silent elevator ride with a stranger. Who says that person has to be a stranger by the time we reach the seventh floor? Most people know what an “elevator speech” is and a good networker has refined their one-minute blurb to a few concise sentences that explain who they are, what they do, and how they can help people. Be bold and make the attempt to speak to people. Even if you only have one minute with a stranger, introduce yourself. Be friendly and always have your business cards handy.
You still need some marketing tools when networking. I give people my brochure, a giveaway item, or a business card with my contact information whenever I talk to someone. Otherwise, they may forget my name and Web address by the time they have access to paper and pen to write it down. I give two of any item so the person I’m speaking with has a way to contact me and they have something to give to the next person they tell about me. Networking is a win-win situation for everyone.
We all benefit from networking. Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by how fulfilling it is to help others as you help yourself.
Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services based in Nashville, Tennessee. She and her team of ghostwriters service clients all over the globe by offering quality writing at an affordable price. If you need a brochure, web text, business document, resume, bio, article or book, visit http://writersinthesky.com Be sure to subscribe to the RSS podcast feed and the free monthly newsletter about writing, networking, publishing and marketing.
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