Is Networking Part of Your Marketing Plan?

I certainly don’t need to remind anyone of how rough the last few years have been for businesses across the country. The economy took its toll on the prosperity of our communities and truly changed the way we live, work and play. For some businesses, it may have been a blessing in disguise. Owners and top executives had to take a closer look at how to become lean and mean again. In many cases they realized that they were not working or spending as efficiently as they should have been which resulted in profits flying out the window. The good news: there is a light at the end of the tunnel and depending on your marketing strategies, that light could be shining a lot brighter for you.

I have been very fortunate in having had the opportunity to interact with many businesses during the downturn of the economy and exchange best practices for riding out the recession. Unfortunately the first thing cut from most budgets was their marketing dollars. Businesses were struggling to make payroll while sales declined with little hope of things getting better any time soon, so marketing went on the back burner. Companies are definitely starting to throw some money back into their marketing budgets, which is a wise decision as long as they are seeing ROI and trackable results. Any good marketing firm should give both by the way.

But how about a little free marketing? Let’s face it, we all have these teams of talented, dedicated and driven employees who are passionate about what they do and who they do it for. How often are we tapping into their potential to network and build relationships that drive revenue into our businesses? Sales start with relationships and if they don’t start that way, you end up with a new customer that will lose you as quickly as they found you. Networking and building relationships to drive referrals and revenue is hands down the easiest, most cost effective way to start marketing your business. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and no connection is a bad one! Allowing members of your team to attend Chamber events, seminars, referral groups or just grab coffee with someone they met is a small investment that could have a huge payoff in the end. You aren’t asking them to be “sales” people, you are just asking them to get out, meet some people and start building a list of contacts for your business. In return, you get a team that feels connected, empowered and even more passionate about their jobs. You can’t go wrong!

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