Guerrilla marketing

Seller beware!  Guerrilla marketing is innovative and seizes the moment.  It is a controversial way of promoting your products and services.  The idea is that in some way you ambush your customers or the media that they are exposed to, such as TV or radio.  For a small business, your resources will be limited; an example would be that a celebrity or sports person visits your town or a trade show organized by your industry association.  You could wear a T shirt or display a banner with details of your business upon it. 

If you are more dedicated, you could project a picture of your product or logo on to the walls of a local high profile building.  You could take pictures of it, and share it on social media.  Check your local laws and regulations. Remember, you need to be a responsible organisation because that is the least that your customers will expect.

Advertising in cinemas and theatres

Cinemas and movie theatres

Your local cinema or movie theatre may be the place where your local customers congregate.  Similar rules apply, as with radio and newspapers above, so common sense says you need to target those movies which your customers want to see. 

If you have a restaurant you may decide to advertise early in the evening so that your customers will go to your restaurant when they have watched their movie; if you have a toy store you will want to target movies that will be seen by children, and more importantly their parents. 

As a creative medium, obviously cinema adverts have sound, movement and colour.  The downside here is that they can be relatively more expensive to make.  Therefore, work with a local production company, or even your local movie theatre, and tell them the restrictions of your budget.  Adverts can be based upon a series of basic photographs and text, over-dubbed with a short commentary.  Your decision will be based upon the level of your resources, and your commitments to communicating a particular message.  Contact your local movie theatre to ask their advice.

Radio Advertising

You may be lucky enough to have a local independent radio station which is listened to by your target customers.  Obviously, the benefits of any broadcast radio are that the medium is largely limited to sound and therefore is often best suited to communicating pure fact, for example when you are launching a new product or when you have a sale. 

You will purchase a series of spots which is a package of radio adverts.  A basic rule of thumb is that 1000 listeners costs about $2.00 or $3.00.  So, if you want to advertise at peak time when your local station has 200,000 listeners, then your 15 second spot would cost around $400/$600.  You can see that by advertising at quite a time, the cost of each advert can be much lower, for example 50,000 listeners will cost $100 to $150.  A tip here is to try to get a discount for the more advertising you do; when closing a deal try asking for some free slots!

The time of day when you advertise will affect how many people can hear your advert.  For example, peak times will be when people are driving to and from work.  In comparison to other types of advertising, the actual production costs are relatively low.  So, the cost of making the advert needs to be taken into account, but should be much cheaper than any video production.

Do not forget there are now many digital radio stations.  The increasing number is due to the fact that transmission costs and production cost are now much lower than in the past; also take into account that radio stations serve specific audiences, for example classic stations, golden oldie stations, lesbian, gay and bisexual stations, and religious stations, amongst many others.  Also search the Internet for any online local stations, or national niche stations that better suit your needs. 

Remember you’re looking for the radio stations that your customers will listen to, and not the ones that you prefer yourself.

Marketing in the press

The press (national or local) – newspapers and magazines

The national and local press are a more mature form of advertising, which is still very popular with entrepreneurs, start-ups and small companies.  The benefit is that publishers will recognise the type of business that you have, and recommended packages of advertising that will deliver a particular rate of exposure. 

Remember to keep your wits about you because newspaper advertising is a tough business and newspaper sales people tend to be paid largely by commission, so it is in their interests to sell you as much advertising as they can.  Get back to basics, and locate within your outline advertising plan; what exactly do you need from the advertising?

marketing-press
marketing-press
  • Work out what size of adverts you want.  This is usually done using column inches or centimetres.  As a rule of thumb adverts at the tops of pages are more expensive than those below the fold.  Adverts tend to be read more if they are on the right-hand pages, and again are more expensive.
  • You tend to buy newspaper advertising by a specific financial amount for example $500, or by a length of campaign which might be a month or year.
  • Your advertising might also be seasonal; think about your Christmas Advertising; maybe use advertising as a way to stimulate sales when business is slow at points in the year.
  • Remember to proof-read the advert.  Make sure that you have signed off any creative work and check spelling and consistency.
  • If you do invest in advertising, maybe include a voucher or a code which the customer can use when making a purchase.  This will give you a broad measure of your success.
  • Advertising is costed at a rate per 1000.  So, your local newspaper could be delivered direct to 10,000 people.  If you have a small car dealership, the newspaper could estimate that 60% of the readership drive cars.  This gives you a ballpark figure on which to base your decision of whether to advertise or not.  The cost per 1000 rate will at least give you a benchmark against which to compare other forms of advertising.
  • National Advertising is a more likely choice if you have a niche product.  If you manufacture fishing flies, then you might avoid all local advertising completely.  You might advertise in a national fly fishing magazine, because there you hit more of your target audience.  If you sell through wholesalers, this will be evidence that you are proactive in promoting your small brand nationally. 

Outdoor marketing

Outdoor – posters, billboards and transportation

Outdoor advertising, which is also known as Out-Of-Home advertising (OOH), is all advertising that your customers are exposed to when outdoors!  It is surprising how much advertising you can be exposed to whilst you are on the go.  You will see advertising whilst walking, or using any form of private or public transport.  Once you think about it, you realise how prolific outdoor advertising actually is.  The main types of billboards are posters, street furniture and in-transit.

outdoor advertising

In the UK JCDecaux is the largest provider of outdoor advertising, and there are many smaller companies, and indeed local companies.  So, if you have a large budget you may decide to use one of the more established national companies, however it is more likely that you do not!  So, in this scenario look for a local company with some prime sites that your potential customers will pass. 

Outdoor on the cheap

Again, if this might prove a little too expensive for you, it is time to use your initiative.  The key to this, is that you need to find a site which is readily passed by your target groups.  So, for example you have a café near to the railway station, you might approach a homeowner that lives near to the station with property that backs on to the railway.  You could pay for a sign to be pinned to their rear fencing, and offer them a small monthly fee.  The homeowner will not be able to see the sign and would be pleased with the additional monthly income.  So, start looking for some decent sites for your outdoor advertising.  What works best for you and your customers?

Street furniture

Street furniture is an unusual term.  Put simply street furniture is any fixed object which the public might use. They can be something as straightforward as a public bench.  Street furniture includes many fixed objects such as street signage and recycling bins. 

As an entrepreneur or small business owner you need to begin to look for street furniture which is in the vicinity of your target groups.  An example might be that your customers drive past a road junction which has attractive gardens nearby, maintained by your local council.  So, you might ask the council if you can sponsor the gardens, by erecting a physical sign that says so.  The signs often promote you to your target customers, and also may make your business appear more community spirited.  Also think about more obvious approaches such as paying for benches and chairs, or fencing.

Small business advertising plan

Your outline advertising plan in 7 steps.

  1. Who is the potential TARGET AUDIENCE of the advert?  These are your potential customers.
  2. WHAT do I wish to communicate to this target audience?  Tell them about your product or service, its benefits, attributes and features.  Tell them about your brand!
  3. Why is this message so IMPORTANT to them?  Explain and describe why they should buy your product or service and not your competition’s.
  4. What is the BEST MEDIUM for this message to take?  Which particular type of advertising are you going to use?  Will you be integrating and blending a number of advertising approaches?  If so, make sure that your message is consistent. How will you blend traditional and digital marketing?
  5. What would be the most appropriate TIMING?  Is your product seasonal?  Will your service be bought prior to public holidays?  Are there certain points in the year where your product or service is more or less popular?
  6. What RESOURCES will the advertising campaign need?  You will need money!  So, decide upon a budget and stick to it.  You also need time and commitment to undertake your advertising campaign.
  7. How do we monitor and MEASURE success?  It is important that you measure your return on investment in advertising.  Sales is a straightforward measure.  Although you could also use visits to your store; ask customers to return coupons and monitor new inquiries.  Remember, at the end of the day you are in business to make money so make advertising pay for you.

Advertising for entrepreneurs

Your advertising will direct a message to large numbers of potential customers with one single communication!  A couple of simple things to remember here: firstly, advertising needs to be aimed at specific potential customers from whom you need to make a profit; which leads nicely on to secondly, advertising needs to be cost effective. 

It is very easy to get drawn into expensive advertising campaigns which are over complex, and which target individuals who are not likely to buy from you.  Before we consider specific types of advertising Let us look at a quick way of pencilling a plan for your advertising.


Where is the best place to advertise your start-up?

Ask yourself, why do I need to advertise?  There are a number of key reasons why you might want to, and you will not always see an immediate increase in sales.

  • You and your company may be trying to create awareness of your product or service.
  • If your product or service is new to the market, then you may be searching for customers to try it out.  So, the purpose of your advertising is to stimulate atrial.
  • If you have been using your personal selling skills, you may have decided that some advertising would generate some useful leads for you.  If you have employed a salesforce, the advertising would support the sales people in the field.  It is useful for lead-generation.
  • As part of a much bigger integrated campaign, your advertising may simply remind, and reinforce customers’ views about your product.  So, if your customers have bought previously, it might reinforce his or her view that the right product is being purchased; if a customer was quite close to purchasing a product, you may have reminded her that she needs to go and buy it.
  • Perhaps the most detailed and comprehensive approach that you may take as a small business, is to undergo some basic branding.  Branding can be very expensive and time consuming, so proceed with caution.  Think about trying to position your product and service in the mind of the consumer.  You might consider endorsement by a local celebrity; you could show your product in use somewhere locally; you may have undertaken some price promotion which you wish to communicate; or you may just simply be telling your potential customers about the products and their benefits.  If you do attempt some basic branding, undertake some general market research first by talking to your customers.  Be consistent, and make sure that all of your advertising and promotion is integrated. Do not confuse anybody with mixed messages.

Promoting and advertising your start-up

There are many tools and techniques that will be useful to you when communicating with the outside world.  Think about these tools as another type of mix, let us call it the promotions mix!  Again, you will balance and blend these approaches to suit your business’ needs best.

Ask yourself ‘why?’ are you trying to communicate with your customers, and what are you trying to say?  The whole purpose behind promoting your small business is to persuade your customers that your product or service has value to them, and more importantly to build long-term relationships with customers.  How you do this is down to you.

There will be some trial and error, and unfortunately you may invest in some promotions which deliver less than you invest.  You will learn from your mistakes and develop effective promotional tools that suit you and your customers best.

Which promotions work best for you?

How do you select the best approach?  There are a number of factors that you need to take into account when selecting the best way to promote your products or services.  Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Cost.  Of course if you have bottomless pockets you can do plenty of promotion.  Therefore, you need to look at what are expected returns based upon your communications.  Don’t overspend!  Look for ways that you can get your messages across by spending as little as possible. That’s just good business.

Your target market.  The promotional tool that you select should be the most suitable one for your target market.  For example, if you have a local business, then the local advertising will be better; that would include local newspapers, local Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, local billboards, local sponsorship, and any approach which will directly hit your potential customers.

Availability of communications.  Not all promotional tools will be available to you.  Their may not be a local radio station in your area for example.  A particular keyword in relation to Pay-Per-Click may be too expensive simply because your competitors are willing to pay more for it. More on this later.

Look for innovation.  Always think to yourself, how can I get some really effective marketing promotion by spending as little as possible?  It might be as simple as sponsoring a local junior football team.  You could send some very targeted e-mails to opinion leaders in your area that might have an interest in your product or service, and they might blog about your product.  It is the role of the small businessperson or entrepreneur to look for ways of networking and maximising big bangs for small bucks.

Offline tools for promoting your small business

  • Personal selling
  • Sales promotion
  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions
  • Sponsorship

With all small businesses personal selling is likely to be an underpinning marketing tool.  Personal selling will be used for every stage of the marketing process for your product or services, from the early days when you are sounding-out others about your new ideas, right up until the product is withdrawn and replaced by new one.

Don’t be afraid of personal selling!  Anyone can learn it, and there are many tools and techniques that can be used to make sure that you get to a sale.  Let’s have a look at a typical personal selling process that you can use today to sell your product or services to your customers.

The idea is that you match the benefits of your product, service or solution to the specific needs of your customers, and remember that you want to build a long-standing relationship.  That might mean that you do not sell today, but you sell many products and services in the future as you nurture the relationship and maintain a dialogue with your clients.

Tips and techniques for successful blogging

Tips and techniques for successful blogging

Now that you’ve discovered the power of successful blogging for entrepreneurs, start-ups or small businesses, make the most of your writing time by considering some of the following tips.

  • Design a publishing schedule, and stick to it. You do not have to write an entry every day.  Find out what your readers require and how often they want it, simply by asking them.
  • Begin a list of potential blogging ideas. There will be times when you are lucky enough to have an abundance of ideas on which to base your blogs.  Take into account, that there will also be times when you work harder for ideas.  Therefore, keep a list of potential blog post ideas; give some examples of what you intended to happen; use short, sharp bullets, or mind-maps to remind yourself of your reasoning in the future.

Blogging for entrepreneurs.

  • Read as much as you can. By reading around your topic of expertise you will develop and enhance your professionalism.  You may read outside of your industry area of expertise, but then draw it back again and reflect upon your blogging topic.  Make sure that you’ve read all of the key texts, and that you are referring the main industry websites.  Keep up to date, and the current.
  • As you begin your posts, explain in short sentences exactly what will follow. This will entice your reader to continue reading, and will give you a structure for the post which you will write.  This will prevent any aimless meandering.
  • Continue with a straightforward structure, and don’t confuse your reader.
  • Do not leave your writing until the last minute. If you plan ahead, then spend time working on your blog and make sure that it is a quality piece of work.  If you would not read it, why should your clients read it?
  • It is a good idea to keep a post in reserve. Therefore, if you are ill or if life takes over, you have a post ready to send out to your eager readers.
  • You may be one of those people that is able to write from 8.00 AM to 8.00 PM, and you will generate some quality content. If this is you, that’s marvellous.  However, if you’re an entrepreneur or a small business person, it is likely that you will have many other tasks to complete during your busy working days.  A better solution would be to write for 30 minutes to 60 minutes, and then take a break and work on other tasks for your business.
  • Staying on this topic, if you feel enthusiastic and full of energy and your writing is flowing, then write more blog posts! If you have something on your mind, then write it straight away providing you have the opportunity to do so.
  • Go and take a look at other people’s blogs; this will give you an idea of what makes content mundane or compulsory. Find a Blogger that is interesting, and learn to write in a similar style or technique.
  • Make sure that you are focusing upon your target audience. the people who ultimately will spend money with your business and will become loyal customers.  Don’t waste your time trying to please everybody.
  • Write what feels natural for your audience; don’t write in hyperbole, which means to grab attention or to generate clicks. You are not in the business of getting people to click through, you in the business of retaining profitable customers.
  • At the outset, explain exactly what your blog is about and who it is going to please. Make sure that you stick to this purpose and generate content to please your readers, and to make them loyal – of course.
  • Vary the length of your blog posts. If you have finished saying what you got to say, then that is the end of the blog post.  There is no point in stretching content because it will become thinner and less interesting to your readers.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. If you make mistakes in your work your readers will notice it, and this will mean that they have less faith in your writing skills.
  • Include guest posts. You may have friends or colleagues there are interested in your area of expertise.  Perhaps you have employees or suppliers that work for your small business by blogging?  Ask reliable writers to write blog posts, and given credit for their work.
  • Include something visual. Try to add an image or video to support your blog post.  People tend to scan posts quite quickly, and having something which is eye catching will slow down the eye, and draw them towards your content.  It also important to include an image/logo for many blogging websites, so that it can be included in summaries of posts which can be found on other pages.
  • Look at your competition. Make sure that you know what your competition is up to.  What are they doing?  What are you doing, which adds value to what you do?  Look for opportunities to add value in terms of your blog post.
  • Use outbound links. Once you have written your work you can include links to other websites which have examples and/or support your reasoning.  Focused and relevant outbound links can improve the attractiveness of your blog post in the search engines.
  • Once you have completed your blog post, go back and proof read it. Make sure that you chop up out any unnecessary text.  Keep it focused and succinct.
  • As with your social media, you need to create a Ask your readers some questions in your copy.  Find out what they think about topics which you are writing about.  Ask them for their experiences.  You can even open up the comments on your blog page, but make sure that you monitor them carefully.
  • As you complete your blog post, draw together all your themes. If you post a question in your introduction, then answer it in your conclusion based upon what you have written.
  • Finally, add internal links to any similar blog posts that your reader may be interested in.

Conclusion

The public are generally interested to hear about new innovations. You need to promote yourself as an entrepreneur, and you can provide the narrative for your start-up using one of many free tools. Blogging is a cost-effective way of kick-starting your marketing.

Blogs for entrepreneurs

Writing a successful blog for your idea, start-up or small business

If you are new to blogging, then the whole topic of writing a successful blog for your small business, idea or start-up, may seem a little daunting.  This section will consider the pros and cons of a blog, and offer advice and tips on how to make your blog more compelling.

Blogs for entrepreneurs

Write a blog about yourself as an entrepreneur

What is a blog?

So, let us get back to basics -what is a blog? A blog as a personal diary which is updated online.  You can share your expertise, thoughts and ideas.  The word comes from a shortened version of web log or weblog, hence blog.  Originally blogs were simply places to write about your day-to-day activities, in the same way as you would do in a paper-based diary.

Some are boring and mundane!  Some are not!  In fact, the more interesting and absorbing blogs became so popular that the bloggers tended to make a decent living. Video bloggers, or vloggers, do the same today – in fact many of them have become thought-leaders and celebrities in their own right.

Create your own blog

  • You need to select a blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger. If you have built a website already, it is likely that you will be able to blog freely by simply creating a new post.  If not, you will need to organize a hosting provider and a domain name (see earlier sections on WordPress).
  • Add a theme, or skin, to your blog. This will give it a more original and authentic look.
  • Once the blog is ready, and you have a theme, you can now change the look and feel of the site by using tools to alter its appearance; this will make it more personal.
  • You can add plugins which are tools to enable you to undertake tasks such as adding social media, or creating mailing lists.
  • The next step is to work on quality content for your blog. This is probably the most important aspect, and will generate a readership audience for your work.

Blogger is a free blog, from Google.

Become an expert Blogger

  • Your readers will expect you to be one of the opinion leaders in whatever topic you write about. So, if you have a flower retail business, your readers will expect you to know all about the best way to arrange roses.  Whilst there may be better qualified experts elsewhere, you are the person that your readers are following, and therefore you need to live up to the title of expert.
  • If you are not comfortable being an expert, then refer to other experts within your field.
  • Write at regular intervals and make sure that you always compose good quality content. Be reliable and post on time.
  • Case studies are fabulous tools for you to go in to more depth, and for you to demonstrate the extent of your professional knowledge. This may mean that you need to source and gain access to a particular organisation in order to write your case study.  It a good idea to obtain permission before you publish anything about someone else’s organisation, their personal qualities, or use photos, which include themselves or their business.
  • Do not worry too much about giving away things for free. Write compulsive, engaging and must-be-seen content that will grasp the interest and attention of your readers.
  • Deliver in-depth material rather than superficial jargon. This will show that you have a professional knowledge of your topic, and it will help you to recruit new customers.
  • Don’t write shallow posts. Don’t write simple lists.
  • Finally, you must have a strong opinion or view on the topic that you are writing about. Don’t sit on the fence!  Don’t be afraid to tell people what your view of a particular situation is, after all you are the expert.

Conclusion

The public are generally interested to hear about new innovations. You need to promote yourself as an entrepreneur, and you can provide the narrative for your start-up using one of many free tools. Blogging is a cost-effective way of kick-starting your marketing.

Get your business on Facebook

Why is Facebook ideal for your business?

Worldwide, there are over 1.65 billion monthly active Facebook users which is a 15 percent increase year over year.  So, you can see that Facebook is an ideal avenue for you to communicate your messages, and so your products or services. Age 25 to 34, with 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic.  Therefore, if you are targeting the under 34 age group then you need to have a robust Facebook presence.  Indeed, those aged over 34 are also likely to use Facebook in one form or another.  However, as we reach the older age group of 70 plus, it is less likely that they will use Facebook or any form of social media.  So, what do you need to get you going on Facebook? Facebook is popular with most ages

Facebook is popular with most ages

The benefit of creating a hub for your business on Facebook is multifaceted.

  • As Facebook puts it, it makes your business discoverable when people search for you on Facebook they will find you.
  • It connects your business so that you can have one-to-one conversations with your customers, who might like your page, read your post and share them with their friends, and they can check on you every time they visit.
  • Timing is also one of the benefits of Facebook as a social networking tool, since your page can help you reach large groups of people frequently. Messages can be specifically directed to their needs and interests.
  • You can also analyze your page using insightful analytics tools, which give you a deeper understanding of your customers and how successful your marketing activities are.
  • Facebook actually gives you a web like address, which you can put on your business cards, website and on your other marketing tools e.g. www.facebook.com/great-budget-pianos.

Get your business set up on Facebook

The starting point would be a Facebook company page.  You need to do this to a good standard; otherwise potential customers may not take your business seriously.

  1. You need to set up the Facebook profile.  Go to www.facebook.com/pages and login. Click ‘create page.’

Get your business onto FacebookGet your business onto Facebook

  1. You are then presented with a series of choices, based upon what kind of business you have. Therefore, if you are a local business or place, you need to click on the icon for local business with place. Add details of your business, and click ‘Get Started!’

The sign-up process is easy

The sign-up process is easy

3. Complete the section about your company in some detail.  Tell Facebook what categories you trade in.  Finally confirm that your business is a real company.  Essentially complete all other sections and finally click ‘Save Info.’

Tell Facebook about your business

Tell Facebook about your business

4. Next it will ask for a profile picture.  Upload your company logo for an image of your product or service.  Make sure that the image is high quality.  A picture speaks 1000 words!  You might decide to use your logo, or something else that represents your business, for example a picture of you or your idea, product or premises.

5. Adding your new Facebook site to favourites just makes it more easy to access.  It is not absolutely necessary, it is just a matter of convenience for you.

Record the page in your 'favourites'

Record the page in your ‘favourites’

6. The next page invites you to add some information about your business and your customers.  This will help Facebook target your pages, in the same way that Google uses information to help its search engine to rank and prioritise.  Try not to get drawn into any Facebook advertising programs; we are not interested in advertising at this stage.

Your business has a Facebook page.

Your business has a Facebook page.

7. Click through, and wow!  Congratulations, and your small business now has its own Facebook page.  The task now is to build your audience, start a conversation and develop some loyalty amongst your Facebook followers.

Marketing for Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and Small Businesses, by Tim Friesner.

Marketing for Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and Small Businesses, by Tim Friesner.

People market ideas, products and services for all sorts of reasons; you might want to make the world better for everyone, you might desire recognition for yourself, you might not like working for other people, or you might have found yourself unemployed for a whole range of reasons. That is why you have arrived here, and now you need to develop your marketing knowledge and skills.

This marketing book is written for you. Click here >> Buy it on Amazon. Marketing for Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and Small Businesses

Marketing for Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and Small Businesses. Having worked for others and for myself, I have built a whole range of practical marketing skills that you can use today. I have also taught the academic tools, models and concepts of marketing to university students for 20 years, and I have written and delivered marketing training for dozens of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses.

From my experiences, I have learned important lessons about marketing, which are shared with you throughout this book.

Marketing for Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and Small Businesses is written as a practical guide for new and experienced entrepreneurs and small business people.

It covers the basics on both traditional and digital marketing, and builds to give you a more detailed, practical picture of the topic. You will be able to start marketing immediately.

The book contains current marketing topics including:

Chapter 1 Marketing for you. 1—4

Chapter 2 You and marketing. 2—10

Chapter 3 Know your customers. 3—29

Chapter 4 Your marketing mix. 4—64

Chapter 5 Get your price right 5—76

Chapter 6 Sell yourself 6—87

Chapter 7 Promoting and advertising your start-up. 7—98

Chapter 8 Public Relations (PR) for you. 8—125

Chapter 9 Writing a successful blog for your idea, start-up or small business. 9—132

Chapter 10 Organising your event 10—139

Chapter 11 Getting started with your digital marketing. 11—147

Chapter 12 Your website and online stores. 12—161

Chapter 13 Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) 13—192

Chapter 14 Your social media. 14—199

Chapter 15 Your e-mail marketing. 15—239

Chapter 16 Measuring your online success. 16—246

Chapter 17 International marketing for growing businesses. 17—255

 

 

 

20 Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking for entrepreneurs and small businesspeople often involves meeting new contacts and developing existing relationships. Generally, you will attend a purposefully organised networking event. Look for general networking opportunities in your local trading area, or one organised by your trade/market association. Here are some tips to get you organised so that you make the most of your networking opportunities.

  1. Research the networking event beforehand, and try to find out who will be attending. Visit their websites and try to get some insight into their businesses. Make notes.
  2. Have a wide network. Reach out to others and use every networking opportunity. Target contacts and find out where they meet for networking.
  3. Have an elevator pitch or business summary ready; this means be prepared with few focused sentences to explain in plain language what you do and why you are networking.
  4. Get there on time. Turning up early might give you chance to meet the organisers, and to meet other early-birds.
  5. Be efficient and realistic. Connect with others that are useful to you now, or will be in the future. You don’t have time to connect with everyone, so don’t work the entire room.
  6. Speak with others. Sounds obvious but you are there to network. Try to build rapport quickly. Have an opening question, such as Tell me about your business, explain to me how your business works for customers or describe how you get new customers. Prepare some before you arrive.
  7. Don’t be afraid to listen to other groups, and to join in. If you have something in common, then it is important that you begin the dialogue. Expect others to listen in to your discussion, and to join in too.
  8. Have goals, but keep them reasonable and don’t spread yourself too thinly. For examples, try to make 2 new contacts.
  9. Dress appropriately. If smart dress is required, then dress smartly. If you don’t dress smartly as part of your business’s ideology, then where what make you feel comfortable – within reason of course.
  10. Remember, just be yourself. You are the most important part of your business.
  11. Remember your business cards. Make notes on the cards themselves to remind yourself why you need to network that contact. Only hand out your card to people that will value it; if you have rapport, then ask for a business card from the contact, and expect them to do the same with you.
  12. Give a firm handshake and look the contact in the eye. Smile.
  13. Get your elevator pitch or business summary ready. However, try to not turn the discussion into a sales pitch. You are not selling, you are networking.
  14. Listen to your contact’s elevator pitch or business summary. Ask a question to show that you are engaged and that you understand. Try to be interested in the conversations. Be passionate about your own ideas. Try not to hijack somebody else’s conversation.
  15. Be willing to end the conversation politely. Thank the new contact, and explain that you’d like to meet a few more people during the event. They will understand because they are attending with similar goals.
  16. Perhaps you might be in a position to introduce other networkers to each other. You may form an informal mini-network.
  17. After the meeting or event, review your new contacts. Follow up contacts quickly. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, or add them to your database. Make relevant notes.
  18. Use social media to connect with relevant contacts. As with your business card, don’t try to work everyone. Be efficient and focused.
  19. Once you have connected, develop the relationship. For example, send them a sample; ask them for a meeting, or invite them to become a customer or a supplier.
  20. Why not organise your own networking event? Or, you could volunteer to support an event or networking opportunity organised by others.