What’s the best way to meet new customers?
When I first started working as a small business marketing consultant in Pittsburgh, I blew countless (and I mean countless) hours attending the wrong events and spent what had to be a small fortune on a never ending list of membership and registration fees.
Just so I could make the most of every online and offline networking opportunity under the sun, get my name out there, and hopefully generate a few leads. Notice I said “hopefully.”
Through a whole lot of trial and error, I ultimately learned which strategies and tactics made the most sense for me and my business while also coming to the realization that I needed to work smarter (not harder) if I wanted to generate more leads and meet more customers.
Here are my top 8 tips I’ve learned along the way...
1. Know your customers
Just because you think the latest technology is going to be the “next big thing” doesn’t mean that will necessarily be the case for your customers and contacts.
Always be sure to build your unique relationship management strategy around your unique audience and the types of connections they’d prefer.
2. Build an online presence for your business
Start by making sure all of the social media profiles for your small business are complete and current.
Nothing says the wrong message to potential connections like having information that hasn’t been updated for months or even years.
3. Use light touches to build rapport
Light touches are a subtle yet effective way for you to get on the radar of potential customers and build rapport.
Start by following them on Twitter or strategically retweeting and sharing their content via your social networks.
4. Make it personal
Once you have potential connections in mind, make sure you do your homework.
Check out their website, their LinkedIn profile, and any other potential sources of information to identify common points of interest, conversation starters, and opportunities to create connections.
5. Always be connecting
In traditional selling, ABC stood for “Always Be Closing.” In the age of social media, it should now stand for “Always Be Connecting.”
Instead of focusing solely on making the sale, look for opportunities to continue to grow your network by connecting with prospective clients, strategic partners, and vendors.
6. Always add value
Focus less on what you’re going to gain and more on how you can help the people with whom you want to connect.
When you put adding value for someone else before your personal agenda, it makes the interaction less transactional and increases the likelihood that you’ll establish a meaningful connection.
7. Blend online and offline touches
Even with the latest and greatest social media platforms, the best strategies still include a mix of online and offline tactics. How much of each will depend on your target audience and their preferred methods of interaction.
8. Follow up, follow up, follow up!
Any strategy is only as good as your ability to follow up in a timely manner. That doesn’t mean never. That doesn’t mean three weeks later.
You should try to respond within 24 hours while the interaction is still fresh in your mind. Connect via LinkedIn and look for opportunities to continue a dialogue as appropriate.
When it comes to meeting new people and nurturing relationships for your business, you’ve got to have the right strategy in place so you can focus your time and efforts on the channels and tactics that are going to have the most impact.
From there, it all comes down to your ability to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your contacts and identify opportunities to add value.
What strategies have you found work best for meeting new customers?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Martha]