So when I started my own company and I started to have to market myself I jumped feet-first into the available social media communities. I met many interesting people through the various groups on LinkedIn. I joined Facebook initially just to keep an eye on my kids but found a real b2b home there. I stuck my toe into Twitter and found I really liked it! But something was missing! Where was the human contact and where were the orders?
I found that when you are essentially selling yourself (as I was) you need to press the flesh in order to find potential clients and to close orders. It takes time – about 18 months in my case for all the flesh pressing to start to pay dividends but business from live networking communities is now paying my bills, something I couldn’t say before!
The benefits of joining live networking communities:
- Meeting real people and forcing us out of our protective shell
- Easier to close deals when you are sitting opposite a real prospect as opposed to being blown-off by e-mail
- A sense of belonging and camaraderie
- Business golf!
The down-side (there’s always a down-side!):
- The cost of joining a group (find the low-cost/no-cost ones first!)
- Time management – you can spend ALL your time meeting contacts and attending seminars and NO time doing paying work (get used to early morning meetings!)
- You can meet “takers”, those only interested in taking from others and giving nothing of value in return – fortunately in my experience they are few and far between and don’t last long within the group.
The hardest part is making the first step – once you get into the flow of it you’ll be turning people down who want you in their group!