Regardless of the industry, networking is the lifeblood of most businesses. After all, it is the most cost-efficient way of finding leads and seeking broader business opportunities! Without networking, you’ll find very little in the way of expanding your business.
How did we network before the pandemic hit?
Most people learned how to network the “old school” traditional way. Networkers bring with them the time-honoured tools, like business cards and a few company brochures, to networking events and strike a conversation with individuals who, in one way or another, may lead to business opportunities.
Many business organisations, such as your local chamber of commerce or trade organisation, exist solely for industry players to meet each other and discuss common issues, all in order to forge possible partnerships.
Usually, these large gatherings help small businesses find opportunities to schedule smaller personal meetings. This is where finer details of the partnership or venture can be discussed, as there is more time for presentations and idea pitching.
While some businesses publish public announcements about biddings and contracts, most prefer people they already know in a business capacity. In effect, networking among companies creates a semi-exclusive club that prevents complete outsiders from onlooking but makes for fluid conversations among people in the circle. If you’re not in the loop, you’re most definitely missing out on lucrative partnerships and the chance to bid on a project!
However, with the pandemic putting an indefinite pause on social gatherings, many marketers have had to find other ways to make a living or find alternative methods to achieve their marketing goals.
Networking amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
With the pandemic putting an indefinite pause on most social gatherings, marketers who previously relied on networking activities have had to switch to “safer” meeting methods. Today, most networking events happen online, via several tools available for both business and consumers alike, such as conference calls and webinars.
Whether you’re a marketer or small business owner, you can use these two main methods to continue your networking activities even with the pandemic going on:
1. Join or host online events
If you’re a member of a local chamber of commerce or trade organisation, then they are likely to host online webinars or workshops as a means to help their members interact with each other. You can also host these online events yourself, as the costs of organising local meetings are minimal, if not completely free.
While the experience is not as exciting as networking in-person, online events are still better than not being able to network at all.
2. Use social media
Most businesses use social media to communicate with their audience, but it can still be a useful networking tool. That being said, some platforms are better at networking than others.
For example, platforms like Facebook are better for marketing because they give you an engaged and diverse user base that most likely includes the customers you are trying to attract. Its precise targeting tools help you reach people who might already be interested in your products or services.
However, networking is a slightly more specialised activity that involves more than serving ads and engagement. If done successfully, networking doesn’t just involve getting a sale; it facilitates an ongoing stream of opportunities through referrals and word-of-mouth.
If we’re talking about networking on social media, you’re most likely to do more by signing up with business-oriented platforms like LinkedIn. While still technically classified as social media, LinkedIn’s users expect to meet business owners and industry insiders and find opportunities to connect and network. This makes it more appropriate for networking than Facebook, which is better geared for business to consumer relationships.
Networking during the pandemic might be more challenging, but it’s not impossible. Get used to the technology, master the tools, and you’ll be filling up that pipeline with quality leads just as before. If you need that extra nudge to get back into the networking game, then connect with the experts that have a large network to tap into.
Network Referral Group gives you access to monthly business networking events in Perth, Australia. With a low fee of $199 annually and $19.95 per month, you can leverage our network for referrals for your business. Join us today and experience the power of referral marketing!