Ahhhh networking events. You either love them or you hate them. I confess, I am a lover of them most of the time – I find people really interesting and love to chat through a range of topics with people I have never met. It can be eye-opening and well.. occasionally a good lesson in patience!
There are a lot of benefits to striking up new conversations with total strangers with the intention to forge some kind of relationship that could be mutually beneficial in the future (I do wonder how many people have met their life-partners at these kinds of events!!)
But… there is one kind of conversation you never want to get backed into a corner around… one that involves the other people in your huddle being totally consumed with themselves and a topic that is a TOTAL bore (insert one here that comes to mind).
You know this all too well – I am sure we have all been there at some point. I thought everyone knew the unwritten rule of thumb at networking events is to focus on the other person first and share the conversation around. Not hog the limelight and saturate it with yawn-worthy subject matter!
WHAT HAS THIS TO DO WITH DIGITAL MARKETING?
Great question and I am glad you asked! 😉
Welcome to the great big world of online networking events… the social media space.
Same rules apply here, people, as they do in the real world of connecting, socialising, dating whatever you want to call it!
I find myself telling business owners over and over again that social media is an online conversation that you are having either with your converted audience (loyal customers) or with potential customers – who are on a journey towards you (not there yet!).
So with this in mind, here are a few simple tips to remember when you start mapping out your online content for LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… or any other platform referred to as ‘Social’ media.
1. Understand WHO you are talking to and what THEY like to talk about
This is socialising at its best. The best place to start is to mentally/emotionally sink yourself into the shoes of who you want to talk to BEFORE you write anything or create any graphics.
When you have a general understanding of what your audience likes to talk about, engage with and is interested in learning more about, your content will start to reflect the kind of conversation that they actually want to be having with you.
For example, if I love surfing (which I do) and you start talking all about this cool new beach house you are selling (let’s say you are a real estate agent) that is 5km from the most amazing surf beach (insert a few shots of the waves here) then you IMMEDIATELY have my attention… Or maybe for 1 or 2 posts you don’t even talk about the house that’s for sale – you just show shots of the cool beach in the area where you have your office… Even better.
Think about that compared to this – you post OPEN photos of the front yard which looks like it needs mowing every weekend (with no images or text about the surf) then I may end up scrolling straight past.
Get the picture? Change up your content with a variety of interesting topics, articles and photographs to really speak the language of your audience – stop being so obsessed with your own business… No one cares about it UNTIL you grab their attention.
2. Keep the SALES chatter to a minimum. When you do talk sales offer your services or products clearly and professionally.
A sales post thrown into your content plan once in a while is fine if you are not shoving it down your audience’s throats every five minutes. Just like in a conversation at a real networking event (or first time meeting) you introduce who you are and what you can offer them – and perhaps even hand them over a business card.
You can do this intelligently online too – and some people will be keen to take the conversation further. Give them clear guidance with ONE way to engage with you further (phone call, OR direct message OR website contact link for example).
3. Some people get freaked out if you move too fast
Perhaps this is more likened to the dating game and I am sure you have read plenty of analogies about that, but it is unfortunately true. You need to keep in mind that most people have a journey to go on before they are ready to commit to spending money with you and your business! Depending on your industry, it can take anywhere form 7 to up to 20 different interactions (we call them customer touch points) with your brand, both online and offline, before they are ready to commit. Consistency of message, consistency of brand presence (everywhere) and consistency of follow-up is essential. Understand the journey your current customers have gone on to help you establish the most effective communication tools to see greater success in the future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts… or any horror networking stories you might have 😉