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Networking: Making the Right Connections
Networking. As a trade service professional, this probably hasn’t been something you’ve had to focus on in the past, which is why we’ve created this article to help walk you through the basics of networking.
Shortly, we’ll cover the public relations benefits of networking, as well as show you where to find local networking events in your industry. We’ll also give you an overview of some best practices for networking with other businesses, and explore how you can leverage real estate agents and property managers to gain new business.
Public Relations Networking
What many people don’t realize about PR is that it’s a long term strategy, not a short term one. PR is a long game that’s all about building relationships, not securing quick wins. Your goal shouldn’t be to get just one mention, you want to cultivate the relationship so that you’re always top of mind when that person has a need for you or your story.
When it comes to getting those connections started, don’t be shy! Take any and every opportunity to connect with business owners or people that you feel could add value to your business or it’s efforts. You can reach out on any platform, be that email, social media, or if you want a more organic approach, comment consistently on their blog posts or any other public materials.
You can even send them mail about their work, like responding to a recent article or segment they’ve released. Always be sure to ask questions and leave comments, a simple “great article” comes across as disingenuous.
Above all else, avoid spammy language. Paraphrase the article instead of copy and pasting the title. Instead of saying “I just read your article The 10 biggest global bathroom trends of 2021″, say “I just read your article about bathroom trends.” If you do choose to use this approach, be sure to take the time to really read and understand the article you’re responding about.
You can also try sending “helpful” emails where you correct a typo, share relevant content, or introduce them to a connection of yours they could benefit from. If you’re writing to an influencer, talk about how you took their advice and share results, as this helps influencer’s brand and they’ll likely share it with their followers.
Take every opportunity you can to attend events, conferences, or trade shows in your industry, as it’s far easier to make connections in a face-to-face setting, rather than just a cold email. This also opens up the opportunity to be introduced to your connection’s connections, and spread your net even wider.
Networking At Local Events
You should always take advantage of local events in your area to promote your business. Examples of these types of events include fundraising events, small business conferences, festivals, community meetings, local rental property association meetings, town hall events, trade shows, etc.
Local events are not only a great way to connect with potential customers, but also to meet other business owners and media personalities, so you have an in the next time you’re sending a pitch or want them to promote your business. If you’re financially able enough to do so, you can also ask to sponsor the event or check if they’re renting booths to businesses.
Find a way to follow up with connections after the event – the easiest way to facilitate this is to trade contact info like business cards and then continue a conversation from earlier, or send them something relevant to their interests. You can try linking them to an article you mentioned, or share something that reminded you of what you discussed, maybe even share a funny video. Whatever it takes to get the ball rolling!
You can also host your own events instead of attending local ones. An example of this would be a BBQ meet and greet to introduce yourself to the neighborhood. You can also rent a room in a community center, town hall, or local library to host an informational session. For example, if you’re operating an HVAC business, you could talk about common household HVAC issues, how your business can solve them, and measures that individuals can take to keep their home HVAC system running smoothly.
Be sure to have flyers, pamphlets, and business cards on hand so you can pass them out for your listeners to take home later. Freebies like pens, water bottles, usb drives, magnetic clips, chargers/ power banks, and keychain lights are especially popular because they don’t get thrown away and are likely to stay in use around the house keeping you top of mind. Websites like 4imprint, US Imprints, VistaPrint, and Totally Promotional are all great places to get customized gear.
Or, if you’re looking for a more creative solution give away freebies at the event, like balloons. It’s affordable to get custom balloons printed with your business name and rent a helium tank – plus you’ll win points with parents while you get your brand name out there.
If you’re responsible for the event or highly involved and want the media to cover it, always have a press release ready for both before the event and after the event. Keep them posted about the time event lasts for and events happening each day – at times, the media may have too much hard news to cover and limited resources, but opportunities might arise the day after.
Networking With Local Businesses
Taking the opportunity to network with local businesses in your area is an excellent investment of your time and energy. Some of the best places to advertise are businesses that homeowners in your area will shop at/need.
For example, local hardware stores are great because people might come in for a part and end up needing help fixing the issue after purchasing it.
You can form a mutually beneficial relationship with hardware stores because of this where they recommend your services and you make the majority of your purchases through them.
Other great options include – moving companies, furniture stores, banks, real estate attorneys, gyms, and other local service businesses. As an incentive, you can offer these businesses mutually exclusive deals, discounts, or create co-branded promotions
Leveraging Real Estate Agents & Property Managers
Property managers and real estate agents are also great connections and constantly in need of help on the properties they manage – and are good sources of repeat business.
Real estate agents might be able to provide a list of new homeowners in the area so you can send them direct mail, and also often have referrals for property managers. Give them a stack of business cards and even offer real estate agent an exclusive discount to give their clients or commission for sales.
For property managers, don’t be afraid to reach out if you see a new building going up in your area – even if they don’t need help at the time, it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
You can find property managers and agents using the following sites:
Let’s recap. We’ve talked about what networking for public relations is and why it’s extremely valuable.
We’ve also covered tips and tricks for networking at local events, some ideas for hosting your own events, and how to identify and seize potential networking opportunities with local businesses, real estate agents, and property managers.
You’re now well prepared to spread your wings and start taking advantage of networking opportunities you may not have considered or known about prior to reading this article.
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