I joined the Oldham Business Network shortly after it was formed by David, Tom and Phil. There were only a handful of members. Fellow moderator, Ian Dunkerley, suggested that networking would be a great way for me to help grow my business and get to know other local business owners. He was right too. Networking has been a fantastic way for me to learn about business, get to know others, gain a credible reputation (debatable), increase connections and feel supported when working in isolation.
Back then I knew very little about online or offline networking. Some may say little has changed. But I do have a lot of “Friends” on the OBN and many have become real friends. I have also gained some fantastic customers too.
Here are my tips for making the most out of the OBN or any online networking website, LinkedIn, Facebook etc;
Networking is about people. I suggest a personal profile rather than corporate. I am interested in what the person is about, what they do and why they do it. “People Buy People First.” My profile has changed several times as I change my offering and my why. I won’t “friend” a corporate logo or generic “About Us” as it’s so impersonal. So why do you do, what you do?
Join the groups on the OBN, ideally those with the most members to increase interactivity. My favourites are “looking for” which you should monitor for questions by members. Other favourites of mine are “LinkedIn”, “Twitter”, “Local Offers” and “Advertise your Services”. Some smaller groups have had great interactions too, so join ones you are interested in. Make sure you are notified by receiving emails when a member posts in your Profile Settings.
Adding someone as a friend shows you are interested in them, we all love being popular right? This will prompt them to look at your profile, read about you and maybe follow the link to your website. Being a “friend” on the network allows you to send and receive Personal Messages which is another fantastic way of strengthening your relationship.
Answers questions on a forum. Like and comment on other members’ blogs. Post comments in groups. Send messages to friends. And if you are serious about growing your connections, pick up the phone speak with a member and arrange to meet face to face. And..
We occasionally arrange our own “Socials” around Oldham. Unlike traditional networking events, they are very unstuffy, unstructured. They are all about meeting people and chatting about whatever you are interested in. I have been known to have a little drink or two also. Stay out late and have a proper night out. Just ask Tom, Phil, Michael, Dave, Tina, Beau, etc.
You are welcome to add your own events free of charge and even share the link online.
This a quick way to lose credibility. I hate it when someone joins a several group and posts the same poorly constructed sales pitch in other peoples groups. Remember, we do receive emails when someone contributes! Imagine getting 7 emails with the same message telling you to buy from someone who hasn’t taken the time to introduce themselves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t network groups to be sold to.
There are many more ways to maximise the features of Oldham Business Network, or any other type of social network for that matter. Networking is a very effective and low cost marketing strategy to grow your contacts and customer base.
Do you have any tips for making the most of networking groups? Post them and share your experiences with others?
P.S. If you have any questions about the OBN, then feel free to contact myself or any of the other moderators.