As I said in my last post, we’re all in this recession together. Continuing this series of posts that expands on some points made in the ‘Marketing Your Way Out Of A Downturn’ seminar, let’s look at networking and partnering.
When I advocated to the seminar attendees the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media, I was challenged. “But surely, face-to-face networking is preferable in building relationships?”
Of course it is, but can you get face-to-face with as many people as you can contact during a few minutes online each day? Online networking complements what you can do in-person.
But there’s a big difference between being listed on those sites and making active use of them, to develop new contacts, ask for help, provide assistance to others, make introductions of your connections to others, etc. You’ll need to apply yourself and learn some new skills, if you’re not already an old hand. There’s a ton of advice online about how to use these tools – just Google for it.
You’ll have to develop your own policy for the use of such social media tools. Do you connect to just anyone online, or restrict it to people you’ve met? Do you let any of your personal life show up in your business listings – for example, by talking about your hobbies and out-of-work pursuits? Some people are averse to doing that, but remember that people buy from people (hackneyed but true) and letting some of your personality show online might help your business networking.
Working out a strategy for having business partners must begin with looking at what your customers need.
Can you work with another company to provide joint customers with a richer set of products or services? Could you share the costs of developing new opportunities by working alongside a partner company? Can you share market intelligence?
Building an alliance with another company takes care and hard work, but the payoff can include access to a much bigger markets, lower marketing and selling costs, and happier customers. And as I said in an earlier post, we all need friends around us to get through this recession successfully.
Perhaps the alliances you forge in difficult times will be the ones that really flourish when conditions improve.