Humans are social beings, so social gatherings are an integral part of life and, by extension, commerce. Meeting a group of people with the same interests, in this business case, is a way to acquire and share knowledge and technology. This, in turn, helps improve and expand our company.
Group events, professional associations, and business seminars are a great way to expand your circle. Networking events top the bill as attendees try to make new connections. Professional association meetings provide a channel to meet people in your industry where you can relate your career or company. Business seminar attendees are a diverse group where you can find unconventional connections.
Now that we are in the digital age, expanding your network can also be done online. Personal meetings are truly invaluable. However, in this busy world where traffic jams eat up your time, fuel costs rise and many other activities on your schedule, you should find ways to expand your network without the hassle.
1. Social media and online forums
The clearest solution, of course. You may already be doing this. Joining Facebook communities or Linkedin groups is the easiest way to meet new people. The downside is that some people have a different offline personality than they project online. Therefore, you need to be very careful about the business transactions on these platforms.
Choose the social media platform preferred by your target audience. Facebook is still the most popular. However, Tiktok is taking Gen Z by storm. Pinterest has a broad audience of adult women, while LinkedIn is primarily aimed at B2B professionals.
You can also keep an eye on emerging social media sites. Being the first among your competitors in the upcoming social channels offers you many advantages. This includes laying a better foundation and original marketing content.
Then there are website forums where the discussions tend to be more in-depth as people go to the forums specifically to discuss this topic. Additionally, some forums have rating restrictions that make the group exclusive to certain demographics. This way, your audience is already filtered and allows you to get feedback from those who will be using your product.
2. Apps to share contacts
Imagine this, your business partner has many accumulated contacts from their previous company before your partnership. You can help him go through his contacts to promote your newly opened business by accessing his contacts as well.
It’s not necessarily through CRM. This can be a bit complicated and expensive. Find a contact sharing app that’s easy to install and much simpler to use. No technical knowledge is required to exchange .csv files or an even longer process of transferring one to another of the virtual contacts files.
3. Find your yearbook
Aside from bringing back fond memories of your younger years, you might be surprised who you’ll remember while looking through your college yearbook. The contact details may be out of date, but there is a high probability that you can look up the names online.
Some people change but others don’t. Rekindling your old classmates can be better than meeting strangers. With the help of the internet, you might just be able to remember some gems that weren’t already connected to your social media profiles.
You can also borrow someone else’s yearbook. If your target customers are older than you, ask your parents, older siblings, or cousins for their yearbook.
4. Surf the Internet
Take this scenario: You’ve developed a cleaning solution. You want to sell it to hotels and restaurants. It’s easy to search by keywords “restaurants in Manhattan and contact numbers”. However, you may miss those small diners whose business is not optimized.
You can use Google Maps or any Street View app to take a virtual walk around your target area and note down all the establishments there. If you have the luxury of time, this will cost nothing compared to marketing events. Just like any of the other methods mentioned above, you can simply wear your pajamas instead of the business clothes you have to wear to networking events.
Developing an internet calling list is the modern day version of cold calling from the yellow pages. You might think that cold calling is outdated, but it’s not. However, the calls would not be so cold and it is not necessarily a call.
In this information age, you can learn a few things about the customer before you give your sales pitch. Once you find their business on Google Maps or through a simple search engine search, you can also learn more about them by viewing their public profile.
Also, if you are not comfortable with voice calls, an email can also work. This works like a steering wheel, but with a little more customization if you choose.
5. Hire a freelancer
If your plate is full of other things, you can outsource lead generation to online freelancers. There are many platforms to meet them like Upwork, Guru and Toptotal. These sites also gravitate towards certain fields of freelancers. Take the time to understand what will best suit your business.
You can also choose whether you want amateurs or professionals to do it. Rates, delivery time and database quality vary accordingly.
A customer database is an important business tool. Like any tool, you can buy it if you can’t produce it yourself. In this case, the tool you need is a database of people or companies with your desired demographic. This is similar to outsourcing your marketing department as if you were outsourcing your accounting department. However, you outsource only the customer list generation part and still do the rest of the marketing and sales.
You may have developed your network online, but nothing beats adding a personal touch to building business relationships. Initial meetings can be digital, even the entire business transaction can also be pure online if your product or service allows it.
However, making your customers feel like they are not just cash cows ensures brand loyalty and positive feedback. How you’ve developed your customer database or even your suppliers, whether in person or online, can mean something. However, how you maintain these relationships will undoubtedly affect the business more.