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How to integrate your networking activity with the rest of your marketing Mike Stokes, Positive Networking In a previous article we saw how networking should be regarded as a marketing activity, and not just selling. And if it is part of your marketing it must be supportive of, and integral with, your other marketing activities. So how can this be done? Research, Sounding Board and Feedback Regular networking enables you to build up a group of trusted and supportive business contacts who can be relied upon to give you honest opinions on your advertising, promotions, leaflets, website changes etc. It is also a way of picking up market intelligence, local trends and news of competitors. Website Whilst the objective of networking is to build lasting and effective relationships, the short-term aim should be to drive people to your website. They will only learn so
much about you at the actual networking events, so if they can be encouraged to visit your website they will see so much more. Your business cards and leaflets should of course bear the details of your website but you should offer networkers an incentive to visit your website â€“ offer a free business tool, or a voucher, or just free information. Social Media Arguments about chickens and eggs apply also to physical and social networking. The two activities are inseparable these days. If you have access to lists of members or delegates before attending a networking event, it makes sense to try and engage with people on social media to express an interest in meeting them at the event. And then any networkers you meet for the first time at an event can be followed up after the event on social media. It takes between 4 and 7 contacts before someone recommends you, so dovetailing the two types of networking makes
absolute sense. Positioning By acting appropriately at networking events, you can confirm the positioning established by all your other marketing activities. Your punctuality, professionalism and sheer demeanour says so much about you, your proposition, your brand. Public Relations Networking events, and the groups who attend them, can be really useful conduits to get a variety of messages across â€“ organisational changes, new premises, new products, book launches, even name changes. And, of course, they are very useful to announce forthcoming events, courses, seminars etc. As with all other marketing activities, networking must be planned to make sure it is consistent with everything else.