As a digital marketer, networking and prospecting is critical to the success of your business. Because the vastness of the internet means you have access to millions of interested people, you need to be a bit more creative in your networking strategies to ensure you’re adding the right people to your pipeline.
Summer is a fantastic time to focus on your network and expanding it for the upcoming fall and winter seasons; here’s how you can make the most of it.
Start Networking with Influencers
According to Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust peer recommendations over brand marketing. No matter what you have to offer, it will ultimately pay off to network with influencers who can benefit from your product or service.
Celebrities often come to mind as top influencers, but anyone who has taken the time to build a strong presence in the online world will prove a beneficial connection.
Targeting the right influencers means knowing your target audience. Once you know exactly what demographic you’re trying to reach, you can look for the influencers who are already connecting with them. Work from there to determine each influencer’s reach by assessing sites like Klout or visiting each of their social channels to see how many followers they have, along with engagement levels.
Finally, determine whether the influencers you’re networking with can naturally promote your product without breaking from their current content strategies and goals. Summer is a great time to promote outdoor events and certain products, but only, for example, if the influencer you’re working with is in the same hemisphere as you are.
Spend Time on Social Networking
Summer is a great time for taking a step back to reassess your social networking strategies. People tend to have a bit of downtime, so while you shouldn’t waste too much time on social media channels, you should definitely spend a little bit of quality, constructive time there. Are your profile images and biographies up to date, reflecting your professional brand and message? Are you regularly updating your profiles with useful, informational (but not stuffy) content?
Connecting on Facebook and Twitter is one option, but only if your prospects are actually active on those platforms. Try to connect with the personal accounts of the CEOs or marketing directors. You’ll get more visibility and a more personal connection than if you simply follow their business pages.
The majority of your networking and prospecting time should be spent on LinkedIn; it’s just a better site for networkers and marketers than most other platforms. Make sure your profile is updated with a high quality headshot, a fun bio description, and a clear outline of your work and achievements.
Once you’re set up, start making professional connections with your prospects and then share some of the links to their blog posts and comment on their content. Be sure to send a message introducing yourself, but don’t sell yourself or your services in your initial intro. Spend some time sharing information of value before you approach a sale.
To succeed, stay focused on the long game. Keep track of where you are in the conversation and bring up what you can offer when the time is truly right. In other words, nurture your prospects over time – don’t dive in for a hard sale.
Experiment with New Strategies
The summer slowdown is a great opportunity to do a little bit of research and implement a few new strategies to make your brand (or your clients’ brands) more visible. Haven’t paid much attention to video marketing yet? Give it a shot. Haven’t ever connected with an influencer? Try it. Client doesn’t have a newsletter or email campaign set up. What are you waiting for? You have plenty of time to outline a new strategy, test it on your own brand, or present it to your clients.
Have you ever run a giveaway? Summer is a great time to try one. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a prize, which could range from some of your services to something completely unrelated to your business, like a new barbecue or a meal on some nice patio restaurant. The point is to get people to engage, opt in to your email list, and begin networking and engaging with you.
Does your website need an overhaul? Now’s a great time to take care of it. While you’re at it, make sure your email opt-in incentive is fresh and new as well. Switch things up if you haven’t done so in a while.
Has your email list gone stale? Clean it up by offering a last chance to subscribers who haven’t opened in a while before deleting them and then segment your list so that you are sending the right messages to the right people at all times. This way you can be sure the people you are emailing are still interested in what you have to offer.
Start Planning for the Holidays
Yes, it’s summer. No, you don’t have a lot of time. Most successful marketers have holiday plans locked in and ready to roll by the time the kids go back to school in late August or early September.
Start reaching out to your network now to find out how you can help them prepare their campaigns, starting with Labor Day and running straight through the New Year. You may even want to start as early as the 4th of July to gain momentum. Trust me: you’ll thank yourself a few months down the road.
Head Out to a Local Event
Ok, it’s not digital, but it’s real. Keep your eyes peeled for local networking events run by your local small business association, Rotary club, or Chamber of Commerce. Summer is by far the most common time for these events thanks to nice weather, yearly conferences, and regular meetups. You may even find a major marketing expo on this list in a nearby city. Step away from the computer once in a while and go network in person.
Can’t find anyone? Consider creating a networking opportunity if none already exist in your area. You may be surprised at the new connections you’re able to make and – let’s face it – it’s nice to get up and away from the computer once in a blue moon, too. Use LinkedIn and sites like Meetup to make events happen.
We hope your summer schedule is jam-packed, but we understand if the summer lull has left you feeling a bit unsure of what to do next. Spend some time looking inward and focusing on your networking efforts and you will be surprised at how quickly business picks up once you’ve gained momentum. As always, if you need advice, just reach out!