Picture this: you’re at a networking event, armed with a stack of business cards and a captivating story. You’re eager to make connections and turn them into potential customers, but how do you make yourself stand out in this digital age? The answer lies in having a well thought out content marketing strategy that dovetails with your networking activity.
In this blog, I’ll consider the essential elements of content marketing that can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge when people you meet at networking events want to learn more about you.
You start by passing your business card (or having your QR code scanned) to a new contact and engage in a fantastic initial conversation. But what comes next in this digital era? How do you ensure that they continue to be impressed by you so much so, that they want to work with you?
Well, imagine turning the tables. You’re the one doing the research. Where do you go first? LinkedIn, right? Optimising your LinkedIn bio information is critical. To start with invest in a professional headshot and use your company branding in your profile banner. Ensure the ‘About You’ section is accurate, friendly and covers all the key points that you want potential clients to know about you. New connections can get a good insight into your experience and level of expertise from the work history section of your bio so ensure you complete all available sections.
Do you have any recent recommendations on your LinkedIn profile? These can be great indicators about what it is like to work with you and your business, and validation is critical when making a good impression. Invite your connections to write them for you and remember to update them every couple of months (or at least every six months!)
It is important to consider the topics that you have been sharing with your network. Ask yourself if your potential customers would find the content valuable. Take the time to write posts that invite people to share their thoughts. Using social media to initiate conversations and importantly responding to their comments shows your audience that you’re not just knowledgeable, but also approachable and responsive.
Creating a social presence that resonates with your target audience is key. They want to know that you understand their pain points, interests, and desires. Put yourself in their shoes: what kind of posts would they find valuable, informative or entertaining? What challenges are they facing? Have you asked your current customers what issues they have or how their experience with working with you could be improved? By gaining insights into your audience’s needs, you can create content that addresses those points and offers practical solutions. This can build the foundation for a lasting relationship. Let the conversation you started at the networking event continue on social media until you arrange to meet again.
Now, let’s talk about what happens when someone Googles you or your company. Have you tried Googling yourself? Now have you done it in incognito mode? Get a real reflection of what your potential customers would get? And ask yourself are you happy with the results?
Are the Google search results bringing up lots of useful information such as the location of your business premises (if you have them) and appealing photos that shows them what you want them to see. If not, ensure your Google Business Profile is updated (generally, this is another task that almost everyone forgets about).
Could you improve your Google reviews and ask yourself how up-to-date they are? Do you have a system that invites your customers to leave reviews, if not, is it damaging people’s first impressions? Other things to consider are your opening hours, are they accurate? Look at the search findings, where are you ranking compared to your competitors, and consider areas where you can make improvements.
When potential customers visit your website, what valuable information will they find? What do you think their first impressions of your homepage will be? It is important to ensure that your website content provides the answers to your most frequently asked questions and is easy to navigate around. Consider when you last uploaded a blog post, would it be relevant and useful to the person you have recently connected with?
Is there an about us section on your website that explains how you work and what your story is? Do you think that the content is compelling, would you want to do business with you, and is it of high quality? Have you asked other people what they think? Could more information be added?
Now your potential customer has explored your website consider what action you would like them to take? Do you offer downloadable content, encourage them to join your mailing list or follow you on social media? Finally, are you encouraging your website visitors to get in touch.
Remember, creating content that offers value is crucial to engaging with your potential customer and helps to keep the conversation going. Whether it’s a blog post, video, podcast episode, or an email, ensure that your content is informative, thought provoking and engaging. By sharing your expertise, opinions, and personal experiences you demonstrate your knowledge in an authentic way. It will make you and your business more relatable to your potential customers.
Building relationships with potential customers through networking takes time, but you can reassure them of your credibility by ensuring that when they visit your LinkedIn profile, check out your website, or read reviews, they find relevant content that builds their confidence in you.
To forge the connections even further, relevancy and personalisation can a game changer. Even if you have to mass produce content initially such as a mail shot, sending content that has then been carefully segmented will make it feel as though it is meant for them and help you to stand out. Most emailing marketing software has automated, customisable features which makes personalisation a simple task which can make a big difference.
Building relationships takes time, by engaging in a two-way conversation and encouraging feedback and discussion will help. Asking a simple question like “What are your thoughts on this?” or “Have you faced similar challenges?” can spark meaningful conversations. By actively listening and responding to your audience’s feedback through social media, online reviews, questionnaires or face to face, shows them that their opinions matter and that you genuinely care about their experiences.
Networking is about connecting, understanding, and genuinely helping each other. Apply these content strategies to the places where your new connections will help to reinforce your authority and provide them with a valuable insight into you and your business.