Posts Tagged ‘networking’
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
If your business has an online presence then you are now in a very competitive market. Unlike traditional bricks and mortar businesses, an online presence has to compete with a much wider range of entities. You are not competing with just your business competitors – you are also competing with those looking to make a quick buck through Adsense or affiliate marketing sites, and mom and dad blogs that often attract good search placements and social media attention. The news is not all bad however, you can compete, and these four low cost online marketing strategies can help you to increase traffic, market awareness, and hopefully, profits.
- Networking – building a network can be a difficult task, yet there are ready made networks already out there, you just need to learn how to tap into them. There are very few niches where mom and dads are not influencers in some way. If you can find mom and dad blogs that have a lot of regular commentators, and who also participate regularly through social media, tap into them. Don’t overtly push your own business, rather, become one of the experts answering questions and participating in discussions. You’ll be surprised at how often those blog owners reach out to you – they will recognize your authority and try to tap into it, really, you’re taping into their network – and the only cost is time. Mom and dad bloggers are the hidden gem of the online world – used to effect, they can be powerful allies but take care, abused, they make even more powerful enemies, and their influence is very strong.
- Forums – forums are extension of the networking activity. Again, rather than pushing your business at people, become one of the experts helping others. If the forum allows, put a link to your website or blog that other forum users can follow. Forums are another activity that is free, apart from your time.
- Blog – blogs have had their positives and negatives over the years. Yes, there are a lot of blogs already on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean that yours is going to go unnoticed. By building a network through other bloggers, forums, and social media, you can quickly build a loyal following. This will lead to an increase in business, especially if your readers recommend your products to others in their social circles. Blogs are inexpensive to set up, an don’t take up too much time.
- Social media – it goes without saying in today’s marketplace. You need to have a social media presence, and you need to be active. This may just involve submitting your blog posts, special deals, and responding to questions and comments by visitors. Social media is free to use, and it doesn’t have to take up too much time.
Those four strategies can be completed in an hour or less each day, yet the overall effect can be a significant increase in visitor numbers, and with it, an increase in sales. These four strategies can all be optimized for search as well – a double bonus.
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Cloud computing has gained some notoriety in the last couple of years. Amazon.com has become a major player in the cloud computing market as have Google and Zoho, the open source competitor to Google Docs. Is cloud computing a concept that small businesses can get behind?
First, let’s define the cloud.
Cloud computing consists of decentralizing a company’s computer networks and paying only for services that you use. You may end up with one application on one server and another application on a completely different server. Does this offer the small business any advantages?
Yes, it does. Cost is the most obvious advantage. Since you only pay for the services that you actually use, a small business can often achieve some of the same connectivity power that their larger competitors have at a fraction of the cost. You don’t pay for network services that are not important to you so bundled services become a lot less attractive to the market overall.
Another advantage is security. If one server gets compromised you still have your other services. However, unlike a cluster server you cannot move your applications from the compromised server to the non-compromised. That’s one disadvantage.
Nevertheless, I see cloud computing growing and becoming more relevant to small businesses in the near future. This is a concept you want to keep an eye on. Perhaps you’ll find a way to incorporate cloud computing into your online business model.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Many online businesses have figured out that networking off line can be just as effective, or more so, than networking online. The advantage to networking off line is you get to meet people face to face and develop relationships in person. By that, you can establish trust a lot more easily. This is the perfect way for local businesses to network and secure more business. They’ve been doing it for years.
Some of the tools that you can use to do more off line networking for your online business include:
- Meetup – Start or join a local Meetup group. These groups can be centered on any topic and are usually run by a local person with an interest in your niche. If you don’t find a local Meetup group in your niche then start one.
- Tweetup – If you Twitter, start or join a Tweetup group. It’s like Meetup, but for Twitterers.
- Facebook – Facebook is an online social media marketing tool, but it does have a local networking function that allows you to meet people who are local to you. Use it to establish relationships then meet your friends off line for some real world local fun.
- Trade Shows – Just about every industry sponsors periodic trade shows. Find one in your area and attend.
- Chamber of Commerce – Join your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Charity or Civic Service Organization – Get involved in a local charity.
The idea behind meeting people of line in the real world and doing business with them online is to build trust. Develop relationships with people in your area. Use your imagination and find creative ways to develop relationships with people in your area and invite them to do business with you online.
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
It`s not always necessary to wait for some big event to happen so you can get your networking quota in for the year. In fact, you`ll probably find that smaller, spread out events are better for building networking contacts more steadily. And, if there aren`t any coming up in your area, why not set up your own?
A few ideas:
- Blogger Meetup. If you follow the blogs of others who are in your area, why not arrange to meet at a centrally located restaurant or coffeehouse? This is becoming more popular these days and can be a great way to network with others in a similar mind-set.
- Twitter Meetup. Like blogging, Twitter often results in becoming familiar with others and the next step is to connect in real life.
- Business Lunch. There are probably quite a few other entrepreneurs and small business owners in your area, so you could arrange a lunch where everyone could come to meet and connect. This can be a very useful method of getting to know who is available in your hometown or even state.
Don`t be afraid to make things happen for you in the world of networking. There`s not much point in waiting around for someone else to set something up, you`ll miss a lot of great opportunities! A small meet up doesn`t have to be complicated, you can easily just hang out at a coffee shop and talk, so there`s no need for big event planning. Just get out there and start networking!
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
This is a question that many people have when they hear me talking about online networking, such as with LinkedIn. And the answer is yes, better, even!
That doesn`t mean you should be excluding offline marketing, a combination of the two is the perfect way to go. But first, let me explain just why I think online networking is actually better than offline.
First of all, you have the potential to reach many more people on the internet. When you post in a forum, you aren`t just talking to the people who are there at the moment, but everyone who has registered with that forum. And not only that, often forum posts are public and will show up on Google in the search results, meaning that one little paragraph can potentially connect with millions of people. You certainly don`t get that scale when you chat with someone at a business conference!
Another huge advantage to online marketing is that you can reach so many people that you would never have access to in a real world situation. While business meetups and seminars can expose you to more people than in your home town, you`ll still find that you are able to reach more online. And location is not an issue, so you can literally network with anyone in the world.
Online networking is definitely not the only way to network, but it should certainly be a big part of your marketing strategy.