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THE POWER OF NETWORKING: Why It's More Important Than Advertising & Marketing



When It Comes To Success, Networking Is MORE Important Than Advertising.

Disclaimer: You do need an advertising / marketing strategy. You should have some form of it (big or small), but it's not the most important way to increase new sales, clientele, or referrals.

Advertising, marketing, and networking go hand-in-hand. You can only go so far with advertising/marketing alone.... and you can only go so far with networking alone (maybe a little further, but still not far enough). You need both advertising, marketing, and networking to grow in your business's success. This concept applies to businesses who sell products, businesses who sell services, businesses who are small, businesses who are large, headhunters, job seekers... a.k.a. everyone.

But why does NETWORKING contribute more to success than advertising and marketing?


·     Buyers today are much more skeptical of sales / ads / marketing than they used to be.... and in return, much more relationship oriented than they used to be. 

Here are a few mistakes that people make when it comes to networking:


Mistake #1: "I don't want to waste my time building relationships with people/businesses who can't use or don't need my services/products. They are no use to me. Time to move on."

People want to buy from people they know, like, and trust. Even if they don’t want to buy what you have to offer, if they know/like/trust you, they are more likely to refer you to their sphere of influencers. Instead of becoming direct clients, they become potential referral sources, which is just as important -- what I like to call "the tip of the iceberg."


·     How are "potential referral sources" beneficial?

      Everyone has a sphere of influencers (anyone they remotely know, either directly or very indirectly) of 250 people. And each one of those 250 has 250 influencers.... which means you can reach approximately over 65,000 people with a potential referral source. The sphere of influencers can be anyone they see often: their friends, family, coworkers, clients, acquaintances, church group, volunteer/organization group, hairdresser, financial advisor, banker, realtor, kid's coach, kids' friend's parents, family friends, networking group attendees, neighbor, babysitter, yoga class attendees/instructor, old high school / college friends, blind date, a stranger at the bus stop who you have a conversation with, etc, etc, etc. 

      A simple thing like a conversation or overhearing someone talk about something they are looking for, having problems with, a need, a want, a goal, a dream.... can lead to a lucrative referral. Think about it: how likely would you refer someone's business or product unless you had some kind of connection/relationship with them? Most of the time, you wouldn't waste your time. You may give advice on contacting someone in that industry, but if you have a relationship/connection with that person, you are highly more likely to refer their specific business. 

      People are even more willing to pay extra for a service or product if they know / like / trust the person who is selling and providing it. 



Mistake #2: "Networking just means meeting a bunch of people, giving a quick introduction on what my company does, and handing out business cards."


WRONG. The definition of networking is "the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business by the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions." Relationships are the basis of why you should network. Again, don't just network with people who are directly your target audience. 

For example, I work for an architectural photography company in Dallas and initially, the last person I wanted to talk to was an insurance agent, a lawyer, an accountant, or any other legal service company. Their types of businesses have no need for magazine-quality images. I wanted to talk to builders, architects, remodelers, interior designers, realtors, restaurant owners, etc -- people who would benefit from magazine-quality marketing images of their work/business. But then I realized the importance of networking with all the other businesses we can't directly do business with. They also work along with builders, architects, remodelers, interior designers, realtors, etc and can be a lucrative referral to one of those businesses. 

THIS is a real example of why I back this up and believe in real networking with all types of businesses, whether they become your direct client or not. Build relationships and network intentionally, because that's what matters and what will pay off in the long run. 



Mistake #3: "It's all about planting seeds. As long as you show your face, say what you do, give them your business card, and make a good first impression, they'll remember your company/business when the need comes along."

"Planting seeds" can be beneficial to some extent. But just like you wouldn't just plant a seed in the ground and expect it to grow into a fruitful tree without constantly nourishing it, and watering it, and treating it... you'll have wasted that seed and it will soon die there, useless, and nothing will ever grow from it.

You must nourish your relationships in both networking for new clients and with your current clients. You must check on them, follow up, meet with them, have genuine conversations instead of strictly talking about business, invest time in them, and "scratch their back" too. 

When networking, you can't view it as, "How can they help me?" but just as much, "How can I help them?" 




Conclusion:

When it comes down to it, time really does equal money. You are investing in time....time spent with your networks, potential clients, potential referral sources, and even current clients. Face to face interaction is an essential part of business. Don't just be a brand that advertises. YOU are your brand, and people remember people more than they remember ads.

If you are the owner, manager, HR, or Marketing director of a company, I hope you realize how important it is to implement someone as the designated Public Relations or "face" of the company... someone who will go out there and network effectively... someone who will build relationships with networks and nourish relationships with current clientele. This person can be the marketing manager at your company, the owner or manager of the company, or even a brand new employee that will be hired to be your designated PR.

Especially if you are a new business, have 5, 10, or 100 other competitors, you will want to get your company out there networking with others in hopes that they will become new clients or lucrative referral sources.

What ad can effectively reach 65,000 people? Not many. But intentional, effective networking can.

Remember: networking is more important than advertising, but also goes hand-in-hand. Have a marketing/advertising strategy, but don't skimp on your networking.


Read More: 6 Effective Networking Tips (From A Public Relations Guru)



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