Ha ha ha, I just did a play on words. Get it? NET-working, you know the Internet? Anyone… (crickets – chirp- chirp – chirp)? Tough crowd. Anyhow, the subject of this particular blog is taking the age old practice of networking and deciphering how you can/should/better not ever do with a website to make it your networking clone. That way you can make contacts while you sleep, which is a beautiful thing.
I stole a few tips from a previous article, so like any good writer I will give this writer their due credit. However, we will take their networking tips and turn them into web related information.
#1 - Select a few key associations or organizations and participate actively. This is certainly a big one. There are good times and bad times to promote other websites. I probably wouldn't advise posting a link to a direct competitor's website, but if you have a valued-added way to do this then I am all for it (your price is lower, see here kind of thing). Likewise, don't let your site become a highway of billboards 70 miles long for everything from baseball to knitting associations. I am also going to say this: DO NOT EVER DO RANDOM LINK EXCHANGES or link exchanges period for that matter. There is no real long term value and in the end if someone comes to you with this offer you are going to get the short end of the stick! The key here is to create a 'network' of associations, groups or companies that are directly related to your product or service and are widely known as the experts of the field you are in (if you are not). It's okay to send people away from your site, if you are giving them good information. I promise they will come back to you. With this handful of great websites, find out how you can cross promote each other by adding content about what they do and likewise if they can reciprocate it's a win/win situation.
#2 - Get to events early and plan to stay late. - Hmmm… I got nothing. Good news is your website is up 24/7. What a party animal!
#3 - Greet people you've met in the past. If you know there is another website that you can benefit from a networking partnership with, then 'ask and ye shall receive.' If not keep asking and keep 'greeting', so to speak, until you can find the magic button that is a mutually value added relationship between the two websites. Now it goes without saying there is a fine line of persistence and pestering, but if you know you can provide value then it's just a matter of getting it to the right person and/or seeing it through your eyes. Back up your reasoning with facts, data, pictures, stats, etc and just make sure you are always conveying the value of your proposition. Likewise don't be clichÃ© and send a poorly written email request. Find a way to get on the phone with someone, the right someone.
#4 - Follow up on leads. Always, always, always follow up with leads from your website. There is nothing worse than someone begging you for help and just ignoring them. It is likely that 50% of your web leads will not be looking for the exact service/price you are offering. If you have a good network and are good at what you do, then you can refer this potential customer to somewhere that can better assist them. Someday that lead might be looking for your services again and can now afford your prices. If you helped them when they were nothing, I promise you they are going to use you later.
#5 - Be generous about sharing business tips, referrals and leads with non-competitors. If someone is good enough to be part of your website network then they should be good enough for you to confidently send them any potential leads (see#4). If they are not then see #1. Its basically the ole' scratch your back you scratch mine sort of thing. Its just good business.
Well I hope this has been beneficial for you. Always remember to stay on top of your networking and your NETworking duties.