With everything in the world seemingly grinding to a halt right now, you might think that your marketing plan and your networking efforts have also come to a standstill. But your networking strategy does not have to go on hiatus just because you are stuck at home. The need for businesses and entrepreneurs to have an online marketing plan has increased over the years. Experts predict the global tab for digital marketing to be almost $350 billion through the end of 2020. The online population is almost 4 billion people and a little over 3 billion are active on social media. So whether you must run your burgeoning empire from your home or not, your networking goals should definitely include a social media strategy.
Communicate Effectively from Your Couch
Even if you are not talking to people face-to-face, you can still communicate with networking potentials through email and other digital options. If you are sending an email to someone you’ve previously talked with, you should lead with a greeting and a recollection from that conversation. The normal networking approach would be to invite the person out for coffee; however, the current state of things may force you to improvise – your chat over java will take place through emails, instant messaging or Zoom.
Your initial message should be short and pleasant, no more than a few sentences. Even if you have already communicated with this person in the past, remember that online/written encounters have more impact. Be polite and formal and allow any casualness in the communication to come from the other party. Regular communication is important, even if you cannot talk face-to-face. Over 60% of polled professionals agreed that consistent communication online was key in maintaining business connections.
Work Your Network Plan from Home
Working from home does not have to put a damper on your networking strategy. If attending networking events is not an option right now, you can shift your focus to social media. For those who are new to online/social media networking, your first order of business is to create a SMART social media strategy: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. “I want a lot of followers for my business” is neither specific nor measurable. You may need to do research on similar businesses in your industry and find out which social media platforms work best. Just because Twitter and Instagram are popular does not mean that these particular platforms will work for your business.
Remember that the focus of networking is to foster relationships with other like-minded business professionals and entrepreneurs; one potential conversation starter may be asking another business owner how he/she maneuvers social media. Linkedin has become a great place to meet and communicate with other professionals in similar industries.
Honing Your Social Media Strategy
If you are not already accustomed to navigating social media, the idea of networking to the faceless masses may seem daunting. The beauty of networking online and using social media is that you enhance your potential customer base by millions. You also have the opportunity to communicate with other business owners without interrupting your own work schedule.
Discussion boards and groups are popular on social media and might be a good place to meet others with similar interests and goals. You have a chance to connect with both professionals and possible consumers. Just keep in mind that you are always representing your business, whether speaking to someone in person or responding to a discussion board online.
Social distancing does not have to put distance between you and other business owners and career professionals. You can still communicate online and build positive business relationships. The shared experience of working from home may be an avenue to new options for your home business. Integrating a social media strategy into your marketing and networking plan is a great way to access a worldwide customer base for your business from the comfort of your couch.