should you network (shake hands) or online promotion (computer)

Should I Network or Promote Myself Online?

What works best? Should you network or promote yourself online? Is all this online content REALLY worth the effort?

Many of us have been sold social media as some silver bullet that will solve all of our problems.

silver bullet social media online promotion

I’ve met with others who feel it’s pointless; in-person meetings and cold calling are the methods to use.

So, should we be doing In-person meetings or Facebook posts?

Cold calling or YouTube videos?

Coffee dates or Instagram stories?

By the end of this article, you’ll learn: 

• why it’s a mistake to see online and in person strategies as separate entities;

•why many small businesses fail at promoting themselves online;

•why networking and meetings are still crucial to success; and

•actionable tips to double your online results you can use today

I’ll also include the biggest mistake I see small businesses making with online promotion.

You can watch the video, read the full article below, or watch and read. There’s unique information on both.

Your online presence and in-person meetings are connected.

Let’s go through 3 scenarios: 

networking holding a business card then looking online

1. You go to a networking event. You meet a potential customer or client. You hand them a card and set a time to meet.

should you network looking up business online on computer

2. Someone sends you a referral. That person reaches out and wants to chat with you.

3. You send an email to a number of leads and get a few responses.

These scenarios have one thing in common. That person looked you up online. In fact, 97 percent of consumers look up a local businesses before choosing to do business.

So, you may think that ignoring content on your website, review sites, and social media presence isn’t hurting your business. However, that person you handed your card looked you up online, and what they saw could have lead them in 5 directions: no longer interested, less interested, the same level of interest, more interested, or ready to buy.

While it is possible for a potential buyer to go through the journey from first hearing about you to making their first purchase, more often, our videos and website content help guide people along the journey of getting to know, like, and trust us.

If 1 is “never heard of us” and 10 is “eager buyer”, we’re looking to move people from 1-4,3-9, 2-6, 6-10, etc.

A scale of 1-10 from cold lead to customer for online businesses

The better your online presence, information, reviews and relevant content, the further along you’ll be able to move qualified buyers toward a sale.

The awesome part is it’s “automated”. I’ve had a customer search for a video production company, read my reviews, watch my videos, read my blog posts, and look at my social media presence. When she reached out, she had gone from having never heard of me, to having spent 75 minutes engaging with all my content. She was ready to buy at that point and has been an amazing long-term customer.

This took no effort on my part once it was set up. The majority of customers don’t go right from cold lead to high paying client. Instead online presence builds trust and connection and moves the client closer to wanting to buy.

Why so many businesses fail at social media and online presence

We’ve now established WHY it’s so important to build an online presence in addition to networking and in-person meeting. However, the problem many small businesses have is they don’t effectively promote themselves on social media and online.

Promoting my business in person and online: It’s all about me

ME. ME. ME. As small business owners, it’s the most fun to talk about OUR business, OUR story, OUR history. Customers primarily care about one thing: themselves. When you post, think of your customer saying “what’s in this for me?”. While it’s valuable to show snippets of what’s going on in your day-to-day life, never forget about your audience (potential and existing customers) and what they would find useful, helpful, and interesting. Tell your customers’ story, not just your own. What do they care about? What do they value? How can you incorporate all of this onto your webpage, your Facebook page, your YouTube channel?

There are many small business owners who feel like social media, videos, and online promotion is something they SHOULD be doing.

So, every few weeks, they’ll log on to Facebook, write a post on whatever pops into their head and then wonder why this hasn’t gotten them results. I think of this as random acts of social media. Without an effective plan in place, it’s challenging to see huge results on social media and online promotion.This is the biggest mistake small businesses make. 

Here’s the thing: it takes a while to gain momentum on a platform, and the more progress you make, the more your efforts will pay you. I talk about this in my post on snowball marketing. 

Once you gain traction, you have so many additional opportunities to reach more clients, connect with new prospects and get in front of new people. A plan will mean creating a strategy to reach, connect with, and message your potential customers or clients. It could also mean reconnecting and helping past and existing clients. I have a whole article here on ways video is helpful for reaching your existing clients. I highly recommend the book “the one-page marketing plan”.I’ve never found a book that does a better job articulating the ways to find and reach your exact customer and client.

It’s important to understand what’s happening on every social network. Feel free to check out my article on what’s the best social network in 2020

Start conversations, send messages, and directly connect with customers and clients on social media and online

The other huge mistake is people will simply post content and expect everyone to find it, love it, call them, and interact with it. Social media is SOCIAL. It’s effective to ask questions, invite responses, leave comments, begin conversations, and send messages. Your posts can build your likeability, credibility, and can help you reach new people. But, your biggest results are going to come from your conversations and messages. 

Don’t forget about online reviews.

90 percent of people look up reviews from a company before deciding to work with them. Reviews and testimonials are one of the best tools you have for building trust and showing the positive experiences and results past customers have received. Therefore, prioritize reviews on Google My Business or Yelp, and ask for testimonials (written or video) for clients that you really went above and beyond for.

Click HERE to learn how to get more reviews on Yelp or watch my video below

In person promotion, networking, and meetings are still critical to success:

Online presence is not a replacement for person-to-person contact. It can help you reach new customers and it can build additional trust for people you’ve met through networking and referrals. However, meeting people directly, listening to their problems, and helping them directly is still incredibly important.

Imagine you’re running for president. Should you shake hands or build a website? Do you really need a website if you’re shaking hands? It would be absurd to run a campaign without any person to person contact. You need to listen to people and connect with them correctly. But it would also be insane not to have a website or social media account. Connecting with people directly is important, especially when you’re new and just starting out. Our online presence can prequalify some people we meet with. I recommend THIS Forbes articleon why face to face meetings are still so important in our technological world. 

Actionable tips to triple your online success

Step 1: Write down a profile of your ideal client or customer.

What’s their age, interests, frustrations, education level, etc.? What keeps them up at night? What’s their biggest challenge?

Then, what are some posts you could create that would be valuable, useful, interesting, or helpful to that target audience? Focus on them and their needs, not your own.

Step 2: When you post on social media, ask a question and inspire conversation and dialogue.

Engage and comment on other peoples’ work and start conversations. Make an effort to consistently enter into conversations with people in your target audience. Here’s a resource on generating more engagement.

Step 3: Set up Google My Business (if you don’t already have a page) and try to get at least 7-12 reviews.

Step 4: Google yourself. See what people find.

Then think; what can I add to these sites and pages that will add to my credibility and likeability. Are there any sites here that aren’t building trust or creating a good impression. While you may not have control over everything Google displays when people search for your name, many of the pages will be in your control. You’ll be able to tailor them to connect with your target audience and build trust.

Step 5: Pat yourself on the back and wait for the amazing results to roll in.

Conclusion-to network or promote yourself online?

You now know that in-person networking is not disconnected to online promotion, the two are closely woven together. Online marketing is not a replacement for networking, but it helps make the entire process easier and more effective. 97 percent of people are looking you up online already, so online marketing is incredible for building trust and finding new prospects and potential clients. We also looked at the key reasons small businesses fail at promoting themselves online, the value of in-person networking, and some actionable tips for getting better online results.

Now that you know how closely these two are connected, what is next?

Once you have that initial contact with potential clients getting them to trust you is essential. Here are actionable tips that will help you increase the trust clients have in you

Well, if you want to grow with YouTube, I created this Ultimate Guide to Starting a YouTube Channel in 2020

  • […] of mouth, in-person networking, and referrals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In-person networking and your online presence are very closely connected. Did you know that 97 percent of customer look up local […]

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