Networking is all about building real relationships that benefit both parties. Take a closer look at some real-world networking ideas for bloggers and digital marketers to expand partnerships and collaborations.
Bloggers and digital marketers often work in a bubble, producing and promoting content from behind a computer screen. The opportunity to grow a network may take stepping away from the endless to-do list — but it can help you grow your team of sources.
Imagine that you blog about the local farm-to-table movement of the Pacific Northwest. Meeting with (and writing about) local restaurants, farmers, and suppliers could set your blog apart from your competitors as well as get a bead on them and their activities. Visiting local farmer’s markets or spending time with artisanal farmers could provide you with new insights and trends on where the local farm-to-table movement is headed.
You can apply the same concept to your virtual community. If a local network isn’t available for your niche, an online or social media community probably is. To get started, take a closer look at some real-world networking ideas to expand your partnerships and collaborations.
Networking is all about building real relationships that benefit both parties. Replace the word “networking” with friendships. If you can create a bond where both ends don’t feel a sales pitch is coming at any moment, you’ll be off to a good start. Consider the following networking methods as part of your marketing plan:
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Reach Out to Your Current Network for New Introductions
Getting your foot in the front door is the hardest part of networking. Work with your existing network of friends, family, past and present business partners, and others to expand your network. Ask for introductions to other businesses, bloggers, or marketers your friends and colleagues know — and think you should meet.
Think About How You Can Help Someone First
Before approaching someone, do a little research to get an idea of what they do. When you’re ready to meet or talk, go in with curiosity to learn more about their business. Have insights prepared on how you can solve a problem or contribute to their growth in some way. Helping a person solve an issue without expecting anything in return could foster an authentic exchange that could develop into a future partnership or collaboration.
Attend Real (and Virtual) Events Related to Your Field
Events like trade shows, markets, and conventions are some of the fastest ways to meet people in the field you market or write about. Come with business cards, a smile, and the willingness to chat with everyone about your work (and theirs). Make sure to exchange contact information and great swag that clearly promotes your business and be sure to close the conversation with a plan to speak again or meet. Follow up in the next couple of days to confirm your plans.
If there aren’t any events in your area, consider joining some networking groups in your niche or consider creating your own.
How to Plan an Event
If you find that your area is lacking in events related to your blog or field, why not create your own? Events may take some preparation and work, but the results may be well worth all the effort. Here are some event ideas you can organize:
- A bloggers’ writing retreat
- A monthly get-together at a coffee shop
- A digital marketing webinar
- A weekly local market or small trade show
- A local art walk
- A monthly restaurant stroll
Start small and scale your event over time, as it grows in popularity. Follow these steps to plan an event:
Determine the niche:
Are there enough people in your target market interested in the niche that would be willing to attend the event? Or do you need a more general niche to include more participants? For example, a local craft beer event could expand to include local farmers, vineyards, and restaurants selling locally-sourced products.
Reach out to potential partners and sponsors:
Other bloggers or business owners in related fields like web designers, graphic artists, and social media marketing companies may be interested in participating. They could provide help with organizing the event, as well as promote it to their customers and network. Organize a team and reach out to potential sponsors who could help.
Set the date:
While this one’s obvious, it’s important to set a date that gives you enough time to promote the event properly. Look for conflicting events or dates which may affect the attendance of your event and adjust.
Brand your event:
Give your event a title and create a flyer detailing all the information about your event.
Promote, promote, promote:
Regardless of whether your event is online or in-person, give yourself enough time to promote your event. Advertise and share it on social media, in your email campaigns, and with your friends and colleagues. Remind everyone to share the event with their network, too.
Thank your collaborators and sponsors after the event:
Taking a moment to appreciate your sponsors puts them in your corner next time you organize an event. Consider sending key collaborators a gift basket, thank you note, or another form of appreciation for their contribution.
How Businesses Can Collaborate to Grow Their Network
Organizing an event is the initial stage of how a business can expand their contacts. The next step is to capitalize on the opportunity. Remember why you’re holding the event in the first place — to grow your network.
Don’t get distracted by putting out fires during the event and miss out on meeting new people. Have a team in place to run the administrative side of the event so you have the opportunity to talk with attendees, build rapport, and find how you can partner with others for the benefit of your business — and theirs.