Most ad agency new business directors will tell you that networking works. They will encourage you to attend seminars and luncheons sponsored by large, local companies to meet potential prospects or partners. It will benefit you, but how? You might say that it is a waste of time or boring because you will not get immediate gratification out of it. But the most successful people are patient and recognize that putting in the work now will usually pay off later.
Networking is financially beneficial.
This is the most obvious first point to networking. Many agencies benefit greatly from networking. It is one of the key tactics behind lead generation and sales. You may find your next great account or assignment through networking. In addition, networking is a cost-effective way to find talent to grow your team or staff. It may come as a shock to know that over fifty percent of available jobs are not advertised. You’ll save money on headhunters and job sites by networking with recruitment also in mind.
Be polite, friendly, and interested when you are networking. It will lead contacts to want to speak with you again, which ultimately leads to more dollars in your pocket.
Networking offers a great return on investment.
There are also valuable longer-term benefits to networking. For example, you could own a traditional advertising firm and meet an owner of a digital marketing agency. Then you could potentially form a partnership down the road when your client needs search engine optimization. Or if you met a principal in a market research firm, you could develop a partnership that expands your service capabilities. They say you become who you surround yourself with, and if you are collaborating with intelligent, driven people, chances are you will develop the same qualities while growing your firm’s ability to attract clients.
Gaining friends in the communications field while networking also offers an additional important benefit: meeting their contacts. Let’s say your niche is healthcare marketing. Your contact that specializes in retail clients might know of a healthcare organization looking for an ad agency that specializes in that field. They can pass off the client to you since that is what your firm specializes in. It’s lead generation that is simple and convenient and requires little, if any, heavy lifting on your part.
Networking builds trust.
Ideally, you become instant friends with someone and he or she immediately wants to do business with you. You’re trusted right away. But in reality, and especially in a competitive market, you have to work hard to build trust. Instilling confidence in your company with someone is not an easy feat. Potential prospects need to be nurtured. You wouldn’t buy a plant, water it once, and expect it to grow—it would wither and die, just like your relationship with the people you met at a networking event if you didn’t keep in contact with them. Once you’ve gotten to know people for a bit and keep in touch with them on a regular basis, familiarity builds and they are more likely to go to you with a business need.
Social media should support your networking.
You can’t sit behind a desk and send out letters or simply blast posts off in the social media sphere hoping to gain a business network. These items should complement your in-person networking efforts. You may gain leads through social media but face-to-face, sit-down meetings will get you the business. Become Facebook friends with those whom you’ve networked. If they post questions regarding a topic on which you are knowledgeable, answer those questions publicly on your business page. Sign the post with your name so your contact knows you are the one responding to the query. They will start to notice that you are an expert in that area and may reach out to you about doing business.
Networking can provide education.
You may go to a conference thinking you’re an expert in your field and no one can offer any information that you don’t already know. More often than not, you will be surprised. Many senior executives still network because their many years of market awareness and experience don’t include the most recent innovations or best practices. You might learn new ways to recycle traditional tactics or gain more insight into your previous successes or failures. Networking also provides valuable opportunities for young professionals to meet potential mentors in their field.
In addition to learning new material about your business arena, you may learn worthwhile information about things outside of your niche. For example, if you’re from a branding firm, you may gain knowledge of new promotional tactics or social media strategies that can help your overall campaigns. You can get targeted, expert advice and end up saving those contacts to do business with in the future.
Now go out and start networking!
Go to networking events with the attitude of “how can I benefit others?” You will be more successful in scoring leads than if you only go to get something you want out of it. Listen carefully to each person’s wants, needs, and the type of business they do and make notes once they’ve walked away so you can reach out to them later. Don’t forget to look polished, exchange business cards, and have fun!
About Channel Communications
Channel Communications is a firm located in Towson, Maryland that enjoys solving marketing problems. We can do it all – print advertising, branding and identify programs, direct response, marketing communications, websites, online and digital marketing.
The next time you are facing a marketing challenge, call on a communications company with senior talent and a track record of proven results. We’re not hard to find. Visit us on the web at www.channel-com.com or call us at 410-296-0697 today.