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If you ask the average chap on the street (Think bush man!) what their biggest concern would be on moving countries, cities or even neighbourhood's, most of them would highlight money, finding a place to live and meeting or getting to know people inside their top 5.
Running a business is no different, and of those 3 mentioned above, you'll find networking and finding that next sale or meaningful customer connection vying for top spot. Couple that with Covid 19 and you'll start to see, why most folk out there who are trying to start a business are finding it pretty hard.
Networking is an art-form in itself and is vital to keep a business running and attracting new customers. Because if you don't find new customers, you'll soon realise that Cash-flow becomes a major issue and that in turn, can ruin the crop that you're trying so hard to grow.
So how do you grow a network remotely?
Traditionally, networking for a startup usually takes the form of tapping friends and family on the shoulder and trying to sign as many of them up to embrace your products and get their help in spreading the word. Even remotely, this is still a great place to start and whether it's by email, video chat, or by that trusty old method of picking up a telephone, it can still reap rewards and is worth pursuing to start to get yourself out there.
Ok, let's say you're a bit further along than just starting out and customer orders have taken a bit of a hit. How do you turn that around through networking?
Simple, it's all about making yourself stand out and appeal to people through various channels of media. Don't be afraid to chat to other people in an internet forum or ask questions. Ultimately, the more you engage with people, the greater range of people become aware of who you are, what you do and what you sell. There's some great communication platforms out there, that are either free or cost very little to get yourself set up on.
1. Facebook - Business Page & Groups - Setting up a business page and joining groups is a great way to meet people and start to enhance your reputation. One word of advice here is to be mindful of the terms & conditions on some groups, as a lot of them don't want you direct selling and will kick you out for doing so. However, you can pose questions and respond to other folks posts. This is a great way to get yourself noticed and also as a passive strategy, start to syphon interest from people into what your passionate about - your business.
2. Linkedin - Professional Groups - Linkedin will provide you with similar opportunities to Facebook in setting up a business page and joining groups. However, it has one strong advantage over Facebook with Networking and that's it's professional group networking. This platform enables you to join groups within your industry and target client markets, so that you can connect with customers more directly. It also is a great way of opening up to a whole raft of business owners that you may not realise operate very close to you and can build localised relationships with.
3. Local Council Networking Groups - hosted on Zoom - If your operating locally, getting connected with these guys is critical, you can open up doors chatting to people in a forum who are going through exactly what you are and they can help shape perspective and form a support mechanism during tough times too. Most council websites will list their selection of business networking platforms and when they're running their next event.
- Twitter - Good place to cultivate a following by posting interesting discussion topics.
- Industry and product/service forums - Being an active member on forums can be a great way of attracting passive customers that know, you know what you're talking about as your responses of good advice will be endorsed by other members.
- Slack - Slack is a great tool to meet industry professionals and like minded business owners and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes.
To all the new business owners out there, good luck, we hope this article helps you with the current challenges of networking and remember, as restrictions ease, make sure you have a batch of business cards and sanitiser at the ready, to fire off to the rest of humanity :)