For many business owners, holiday breaks like Easter and Christmas can offer an extended few days to reflect on the last 12 months' efforts and re-evaluate the business relationships that are providing value; and those which aren’t.
Networking with similar or complementary businesses is a critical piece of your business growth strategy. It’s a strategy that has always provided opportunities to gain more leads through referral and word of mouth. In the digital age, your strategy needs to also extend to online networking and link-building for your website.
Here are our top tips on what to consider for your digital networking strategy this year:
Defining Your Digital Networking Goals
Before looking at where to focus your networking efforts, take a moment to define your goals. Are you looking to simply build brand credibility? If so, a strong focus on producing blogs and sharing quality online content may be your priority. If you’re looking to build your network of like-minded professionals, sharing business ideas and commenting on forums or business networks may provide the results you’re after. If you’re solely invested in generating more inbound leads, this could mean concentrating on your website link-building strategies.
Social media can be an extremely cost-effective way to increase your brand exposure and maximise your inbound marketing. It’s also a medium which can make networking quicker and easier. You’ll want to do some research to find out where your potential customers are spending their time. Are they a generally younger crowd, heavily engaged with the likes of Facebook and Instagram? Or are they more corporate-minded, using LinkedIn on a regular basis?
Platforms such as LinkedIn can let you connect with other professionals, but it’s important to learn a little about those you’d like to connect with first. Sending blanket invitations to those who have no common interests or business objectives can be seen as “spammy” and will often be ignored. Before reaching out to someone have a read of their profile, posts, influencers and companies they’re following to get a feel for who they are. This will help you personalise your invitation message with a quick explanation as to why you’d like to connect.
Facebook is another channel that’s gaining momentum from a business perspective. If you don’t have a page for your business, this should be your top priority. Have a clear idea of your target audience and begin building a repository of material to post on your business page. It should be informative, helpful and provide value to your audience. Facebook also has some great post-boosting functionality, should you want to extend the reach of your posts even further. The networking component comes in the ongoing management of your company page; following similar businesses, commenting and providing your opinions on other business posts, and inviting users who have reacted to your posts to subsequently like your business page.
Networking Through Website Link-Building
Link building is a major piece of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) puzzle and will help generate more inbound traffic to your website, which provides you with potential business leads. Your link-building should be carefully planned to ensure you’re building the right types of inbound links and relationships with the right businesses.
Getting started can be as easy as emailing a website owner, expressing that you’ve read some great content on their site and would like to offer some of your own complementing content to add further value to their site visitors.
There are several factors to getting your link-building strategy right, but our top three will give you a good starting point:
- Site and Link Quality
Before starting a conversation about a link building partnership, check out that business’ website to gain an idea of the quality of that site. If they end up linking to your site, is it going to increase the standing of your own site, or drag it down? There are many sites out there promising to “generate leads through purchased linking”. These are the ones to beware of, as they’re likely low quality sites engaging in black hat SEO techniques, which can harm your search engine ranking from Google.
- Keeping It Relevant
Providing a great user experience is all about offering relevant, engaging material that will be beneficial to that user. Think carefully about the material you’re asking another site to link through to. Does it provide additional information or other views on the same subject? Will the user find that it’s providing further value to them? If you’re asking a site to link through to your page with unrelated information to the subject or business, that could be a problem.
- Quid Pro Quo
This is a simple one, but often overlooked. If you’re going to ask a company to link to your site, consider what’s in it for them. They may be immediately happy to link to you due to your company reputation, standing in your industry or because they genuinely like your company and its objectives. Though you may have more success up-front by offering to also provide links back to their site or for them to contribute a guest blog. This works especially well when both businesses have complimentary products or services.
No matter which channels you’re planning on using to build your business relationships over the next 12 months and beyond, simply reaching out and initiating conversations can help boost your brand awareness, open new opportunities, and even generate some new leads.
At JCurve Solutions, we love sharing ideas about business growth, as well as hearing them. Being a 5-star NetSuite Solution Provider and providing an exclusive small business edition of NetSuite, we’re proud to help businesses grow, reduce costs and improve their profitability through award-winning cloud ERP business management software. If you’d like to know more about how we can help your business, get in touch to start a conversation.