In a previous post, we discussed the importance of networking for you and your business and how to approach in-person networking. In this post on networking, we’ll go over how to develop a digital networking strategies using e-mail and e-marketing.
USING E-MAIL TO NETWORK
Earlier, we discussed how attending group functions is a good way to meet and connect with other business people in your community. After you meet people at an event or function, you need to find ways to grow the relationship, especially if you or the other person don’t regularly attend the same events. Here’s where you can use e-mail in your networking strategy.
So you’ve gone to an event and you want to stay in touch with a few of the people you met. Great! You don’t want to wait too long to reach out to these new acquaintances. As you know, people are busy and attention spans are short. Within one to two days of the event, we recommend sending a personalized e-mail to whoever you’d like to speak to more.
When you email your new contact, don’t make them guess or work hard to remember who you are. In this email, you should remind the individual who you are, what you do, and what you both discussed at the event or meeting. After your brief introduction, you can ask your contact about them, their work, or follow-up with what you’ve previously discussed. The purpose of this email is to open a dialog so it needs to get the recipient interested.
Ideally, your new contact will respond and you will have a new network connection. However, there is a chance they won’t respond. A lack of response to your initial message could be due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of time, your email was lost, or they didn’t want to respond. Supposing it’s not the last item, there are some steps you can take to try to get a response without annoying your contact.
- First, decide how important this connection is to you.
- If you decide you’d like to continue to try to connect with this person, set up a schedule for two follow-up e-mails.
- Wait about 5 days (a work week) from sending the initial email before you send a follow-up email. This email should be similar in tone to the first one sent, but should not be copy and pasted from the first. You can emphasize your desire to hear from this person and make sure they have your contact information, but don’t be pushy or demanding. That won’t do you any favors.
- After sending your second follow-up e-mail, wait another five days before sending a third and final follow-up email. If you haven’t heard from them by now, there’s a good chance you won’t. You don’t want to become a nuisance and get a negative reputation, so limit yourself to three emails or less. Remember to be polite.
The above process can also be used if you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met in person. The key in both situations is that you are respectful of the other person and their time.
USING E-MARKETING TO NETWORK
E-marketing, or electronic marketing, is typically connected to acquiring and retaining clients. However, the same practices can be applied to networking. The suggested course of action for contacting someone you’ve met at an event or function. These steps are similar to that of e-marketing.
In e-marketing, emails and other forms of electronic communications are sent to users who have consented to receive the messages. These emails can be generalized to the mass mailing list, or they can target the receiver based on their stage in the purchase cycle. Let’s take a look at the different stages of emails that can be sent by a retail agency.
- Acquisition E-mails: These are the basic emails that are sent out the whole database of email subscribers. They inform subscribers of sales and often include discount codes.
- Conversion E-mails: Suppose you’ve been shopping online, but decide not to complete a purchase. The retailer then sends you an email reminding you of the items you left in your cart or looked at in your last shopping session. This emails are meant to encourage you to complete a purchase.
- Retention and Growth Emails: These kinds of emails can be similar as their goal is to keep customers and encourage future purchases. Some examples include promoting a credit or membership card that offer the customer even more deals than what they already receive and emails with suggested purchases based on the customer’s past purchases.
So how can you translate e-marketing into networking?
Networking is all about building relationships with people. Whether these relationships are with customers or potential business partners doesn’t matter. You need to make working with you a positive experience and valuable for them. Remember, networking is based on the relationship being mutually beneficial. You can take the e-marketing concepts of customer acquisition and retention and apply them to your digital marketing strategy.
For example, your communications will start off more generic and work toward building trust with your contact. As the relationship grows, you can move the conversation toward a problem you have and how you think what your contact can help you. Again, you need to be prepared to offer something in return. Just as your time and skills are valuable, so are your contact’s. Make sure you don’t discount what they do. If it was easy or you could do it, you’d be doing it in-house.
Finally, networking isn’t just about getting something from someone in the form of a product or service. Networking can lead to mentorships or friendships. Maybe someone you know can’t help you directly, but they may be able to introduce you to other people who can. You don’t have to build your network based only on what someone can do for you. A variety of reasons will influence who you choose to connect with, including admiring someone’s work ethic, being interested in someone’s field even if it doesn’t relate back to yours, or genuinely liking someone. The key to successful networking is to have a strong communication strategy online and off.
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