In the current economical client, competition is rife amongst all industries. Competition is a healthy concept in business and forces the market to move along with the times, with firms constantly trying to better themselves and stand out from their competitors.
A crucial factor to take into account when considering how to optimise growth and performance is lead generation. One method of improving the prospects of generating leads, which is often not given enough credit or emphasis, is Networking. Networking appears in many forms and there is no single sure-fire method to network. Networking can take place on the way to work, when out with friends on the weekend, attending work related events, using social media, email conversations and even on holiday. The opportunities are endless. The objective behind networking is building both business and personal relationships with other individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, which can result in a company or brand being projected to a wider audience.
The development in technology and surge of internet use over the years makes the online arena a desirable location for networkers to meet new individuals. The massive increase in popularity in social media provides a prime opportunity to come across likeminded professionals, members of the general public and potential clients without having to physically be present.
With the introduction of LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and many more online social media platforms, companies can connect with prospective clients and potential referrers from the comfort of their computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and now even tablet style watches! Combining the use of these online platforms with the traditional method of meeting people face to face (which is recommended in order to maximise networking opportunities), companies are able to promote themselves and increase awareness without the need to rely solely on other marketing strategies such as TV commercials, radio adverts, flyers etc. The amazing part is that it is not always necessarily conversations about work related topics that lead to relationships being formed; common interests and activities can trigger conversations which then can eventually drift to work related topics and allow business related discussions to blossom.
The beauty of online networking lies in the domino effect. If one is able to engage an individual, form a relationship with them and create a lasting impression (positive of course) not only do they increase the likelihood of that person using the company for their own needs, but they also open the door to that individual recommending the company and its services to other individuals and/or companies their own network. This could then lead to those within that expanded network recommending and referring the company to their own set of contacts. To use an example in relation to online networking, an individual could attract the interest of a particular individual through a Facebook post and send them a web link to a particular product or service at some point after their initial discussion. That individual may then “share” that page on one of their social media pages/accounts or
amongst their own professional contacts and immediately that product/service has been promoted to numerous external individuals without lifting a finger. Another example may be that after a discussion on LinkedIn, one party to the conversation may decide to invite the other to a particular event or business outing, whereby they could be exposed to hundreds of potential new contacts.
Online networking will not always produce results overnight and can be better categorised as a constant activity as part of one’s personal and business development. Over time, this practice will increase awareness of an individual and/or company and if done correctly, promote a positive image and reputation.
This blog, ‘The value of networking online for professional service firms,’ has been written by Mr Arjun Sreedaran, Solicitor.