Networking is for nothing if it doesn’t lead to a lasting connection. But following up from networking meetings can inform following up from blog networking in an important way: not everyone you meet at a networking event is a customer, and it’s important not to treat them as such. Content can work in the same way. Modern thinking is that content should be helpful and shareable, not a direct sale. So how do use content to drive business, and what can we learn from real life networking methods to help with blog marketing follow ups?
Finding a way to extend your message
The principle that pervades all our earlier networking tips should come to fruition at the point of follow up, or the call to action in a piece of online content. Everything you say and do should build towards a meaningful relationship, and a genuine connection. You should have learnt what your new contact’s interests are, and found a way to connect with them. Following up in person, you can send a message that is personal and meaningful: with online content the principle is the same. Readers will return to your blog, and share your blog with others, based on how it connects with them personally. They will want to know more themselves, without you pushing them.
The result of a solid piece of content is that you have a captive audience. You have connections who want to interact with you, they want to receive your new updates and are paying attention to your product. You don’t have to sell directly to them, you just have to stay visible. If they like what you say, and keep you in mind, they’ll pass on your details to others. That’s the beauty of networking, and a business blog that encourages repeat visits and discussion embodies that fully.
Offering simple ways to connect
How your readers continue to connect with you should be as simple online as it is in person. Business cards with clear details and a simple expression of your basic brand are a must networking in person, and a well-managed website is no different online. Your content may be unique, show personality and connect, but your site should be every bit as simple and clear as a business card. It should be immediately apparent how you can be contacted, or how someone can receive regular updates from you (for instance through a mailing list, social media connect buttons or the blog/RSS follow buttons).
Treat social media like an opportunity to build personal relationships, talking as you would in networking events, encouraging two-way conversation. Continue to interact with people after the event, fitting in your new content in relevant and natural ways. Listen to the comments of your readers and pay attention to exactly who is listening. Follow a through line – if you’ve said something that’s resonated with your audience, build on it. Add more to your content in a logical way that considers what is popular, and what people are most interested in hearing. In short, follow up by building content that people have demonstrated they like, not merely by building content to air your own views.
Keep it up
Finally, for any networking to work, online or in person, you have to keep it up. One conversation, or one piece of content, is rarely enough to drive a business. You need to be visible, you need to keep updated (adding fresh content, keeping in touch with your contacts), and you need to be consistent. Business blogging and networking have one final, very important, thing in common: they are long term strategies. Don’t expect success overnight, it takes patience and consideration to build lasting relationships.
I’ve written this short series rather abstractly connecting the ideas of networking and business blogging, with generalisms and few examples, because these are universal principles. I do believe the messages are true, though, and can quite happily explain them in relation to my own blogs. I run an English language tuition site, where I write content that my students have specifically asked for – which is the most successful of my blogs, precisely because it offers such specifically tailored content. It picks up the most search results, and is the most read, and shared, of my sites, and as a result also picks up the most inquiries. It tops a number of Google ranks with an almost non-existent number of backlinks, because it answers exactly the questions people are asking – and as a result it has brought me new clients and revenue from the website itself.
Meanwhile, my creative writing website does very poorly because it is, quite frankly, all about me. It lacks focus and lacks a consideration of the audience, as a desolate plain of creative writing-based brain farts, which has an understandably ineffective place on the internet – even with substantial backlinks. Between the pair of them, it’s quite clear which method works better for networking online.