As a content marketer, you shouldn’t expect clients to come to you. While you’ll inevitably attract leads through word of mouth and referrals, you likely won’t be successful without taking action from time to time. Being proactive is a critical component of growing your business. And while networking is often looked at as intimidating, scary, or awkward, it doesn’t have to be.
Networking looks different for every person; however, the following three benefits are universally understood, regardless of the industry, country or profession.
Each time you make a connection via professional networking, you develop a business opportunity, supportive relationship or positive influence. While it may take months or years to figure out which role a connection plays in your career, you’ll eventually be able to classify them.
While most content marketers understand the value of networking, very few have an accurate depiction of what it looks like in practice. Here are some tips you may find helpful.
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Some people don’t get very excited about attending industry events and networking gatherings. It’s just not something that strikes up positive emotions for some. However, many successful content marketers are the ones who force themselves to attend these events.
While actually showing up can be the most difficult part, you also need to ensure you carry yourself in the right manner when networking with the other attendees. For starters, try wearing a name badge or ID so that people can remember your name, which company you work for, and what your title is. It’s also a good idea to bring some business cards to give out to the folks you meet. The goal here is to be as memorable as possible.
LinkedIn is an amazing tool that far too many content marketers miss out on leveraging. Any time you meet someone, you should connect on LinkedIn within 24 hours. After this 24-hour timeframe passes, it’s less likely that they’ll remember who you are. It doesn’t stop here, though. Making the connection is only part of the process.
Keep a calendar on your desk or computer and make a point of touching base with each of your connections at least once per month. This could be as simple as sending a message, or as intentional as calling and setting up a lunch meeting.
Volunteering at industry events is a good idea for two reasons. (1) You’ll often gain free access to an event by simply volunteering to man a booth or help out in some way. (2) By attending the event, you get the opportunity to surround yourself with other people in your industry. You can then use this chance to casually network.
Content marketers often get the wrong impression about networking. Some assume it’s all about meeting new people and developing new connections. While this is certainly a big part of professional networking, it doesn’t have to be the only thing. You should also learn to leverage existing contacts.
Maybe you know someone from college who’s launched a business? Do you have a neighbor down the street who can help you out? Don’t assume that networking always involves meeting someone new. Sometimes you’ll experience better results by tapping into the relationships you’ve already developed.
The fifth tip may seem basic, but it’s extremely valuable: wait in line. What line? Any line. At networking events, one of the best things you can do is put yourself in a position where you’re standing next to people who have nothing else to do but talk. Waiting in a long line gives you the perfect opportunity.
The term “professional networking” gets a bad rap sometimes. It can sound intimidating or strike fear in even the most charismatic of people. This is because we place too much structure on networking. Real networking is natural. It happens when you strike up a conversation while you’re pumping gas. It occurs when you overhear someone say something at dinner. It happens while you’re watching your child’s soccer game from the bleachers.
While networking happens in professional settings, it also happens during the moments when you least expect it. Once you realize this, you’ll experience a sense of freedom. Use the tips referenced in this article and you’ll find that you’re much less intimidated by networking.
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