Humans are social beings, hence, social gatherings are an integral part of life and by extension, of commerce. Meeting a group of people with the same interests, in this case for business, is an avenue to gain and share knowledge and technology. This, in turn, helps improve and expand our enterprise.
Networking group events, professional associations, and business seminars are a great way to broaden your circle. Networking events top the bill as attendees purposely seek to make new connections. Professional association assemblies provide a channel to meet people in your industry where you can correlate your career or company. Business seminar participants are a diverse group where you may find offbeat connections.
Now that we are in the digital age, expanding your network can be done online as well. Personal meetings are indeed invaluable. However, in this busy world where traffic jams eat your time, rising fuel costs, and lots of other activities on your schedule, you should find ways to expand your network without the hassles of it.
1. Social Media and Online Forums
The most overt solution, of course. You might as well be doing it already. Joining Facebook communities or Linkedin groups is the easiest way to meet new people. The downside is that some people have a different offline personality than what they project online. Thus, one has to be extra attentive regarding the business transactions on these platforms.
Choose the social media platform that is preferred by your target audience. Facebook is still the most popular. However, Tiktok is conquering Gen Z by storm. Pinterest has a wide audience of adult females while LinkedIn caters mostly to B2B professionals.
You can also watch out for emerging social media sites. Being first among your competitors on upcoming social channels gives you many advantages. This includes establishing the ground better and original marketing content.
Then, there are website forums where discussions are often more in-depth, as people go to forums specifically to talk about that topic. Furthermore, some forums have qualification restrictions that make the group exclusive of certain demographics. In this manner, your audience is already filtered allowing you to get feedback from those who will be using your product.
2. Contact Sharing Apps
Picture this, your business partner has many accumulated contacts from his previous company before your partnership. You can help him go through his contacts in promoting your newly opened business by accessing his contacts as well.
It’s not necessarily through CRM. That may be a wee bit complicated and expensive. Find a contact-sharing app that is easy to install and much simpler to use. No need for the technical knowledge of exchanging .csv files or an even longer process of one-by-one transfer of virtual contact files.
3. Find Your Yearbook
Aside from bringing back nice memories from your younger years, you may be surprised at who you would remember while you browse your university yearbook. The contact details may be obsolete but there is a high probability that you can search the names online.
Some people change but some don’t. Rekindling with your former classmates may prove to be better than meeting complete strangers. With the aid of the internet, you may just be able to recollect some gems that weren’t connected with your social media profiles yet.
You can also borrow somebody else’s yearbook. If your target customers are older than you, ask your parents, older siblings, or cousins for their yearbook.
4. Scour the Internet
Take this scenario: you have developed a cleaning solution. You want to sell it to hotels and restaurants. It’s easy to keyword search “restaurants in Manhattan and contact numbers”. However, you may miss those small diners whose business is not optimized.
You can use Google Maps or any street view app for a virtual stroll in your target area and note all the establishments there. If you have the luxury of time, this will not cost anything compared to marketing events. Just like any other methods listed above, you can simply be in your pajamas instead of the business attire you have to wear at networking events.
Developing a call list from the internet is the modern version of cold calling from the yellow pages. You may think cold calling is obsolete but it is not. However, the calls wouldn’t be as cold and it’s not necessarily a call.
In this age of information, you can know a few things regarding the client before giving out your sales pitch. Once you find their business on Google Maps or by a simple search engine lookup, you can gain more insight about them by viewing their public profile as well.
Moreover, if you are not comfortable with voice calls, an email can work too. This works like flyering but with a bit more personalization should you choose to.
5. Hire a freelancer
If your plate is full of other stuff, you can outsource the generation of possible clients to online freelancers. There are lots of platforms to meet them like Upwork, Guru, and Toptotal. These sites gravitate towards certain fields of freelancers as well. Take time to understand which will suit your business more.
You can also choose whether you want it done by amateurs or professionals. The rates, delivery time, and quality of the database vary accordingly.
A client database is an important business tool. Just like any tool, you can buy it if you can’t produce it yourself. In this case, the tool you need is a database of people or companies under your desired demographics. This is akin to outsourcing your marketing department like you outsource your accounting department. However, you outsource only the client list generation part and you still do the rest of the marketing and sales.
You may have developed your network online but nothing beats adding a personal touch to establishing business relationships. Initial meetings may be digital, even the whole business transaction can be purely online as well if your product or service allows.
However, making your clients feel they are not just cash cows secures brand loyalty and positive feedback. The way you have developed your client database or even your suppliers, be it personal or online, may mean something. Nevertheless, how you maintain these relationships will certainly impact the business more.