When I speak to business owners about blogging, sometimes I hear, “Does anyone even read these things?” or even, “Why bother?”
There are plenty of online benefits to posting high-quality content on your business blog regularly, and one of the most important is this:
Information seekers and search engines will both recognize you and your website as authorities on the topic you’re blogging about. This can help attract new potential customers and increase their trust to purchase your product or service, even though you haven’t met in person.
Networking, if done well, can also help you establish trusting relationships with potential customers. That is, as long as you attend networking events regularly, and cultivate long-term relationships with your fellow professionals.
It’s your job to train your network to recognize your ideal customers and the unique problems that you solve in your business. That way, when members of your network come across these people, they can introduce you. This creates an optimal situation where you’re solving, not selling.
Here are five ways that blending business blogging with in-person networking will help you attract new clients, grow your network, and make a meaningful contribution to those you meet.
1) Match your message – One of the first things many people will do with that stack of business cards they collected at a networking event is visit people’s websites. If they find a current and highly informative collection of articles (otherwise known as a blog) about the same topics you referred to at the meeting, that validates the positive impression you made in person.
2) Educate – Your network can only learn so much from a 60-second introduction, especially in the midst of dozens of other introductions that can all start to blend together after awhile. On your blog, include case stories and samples that will clearly show your network what you do and who you do it for.
3) Equip – By publishing blog posts on a variety of topics that correspond to the specific customers, products, services or situations that you deal with in your business, your networking colleagues can easily find and share this specific information when they meet an ideal customer for you.
4) Spotlight – Members of your network may also post your content on social media to share with their entire network. By blogging consistently and linking to your posts on social media, you make it easy for your network to help you. You also make them look better by giving them great content to share. You can return the favor with a simple public “thank you” that your followers will see, or by promoting some of the other person’s content or announcements.
5) Follow up – If you speak to someone at a networking event who might also be a potential customer, blogging gives you a non-threatening and effective way to continue the conversation. Simply send them the link to one or two of your blog posts, that either describes how you solved a similar problem for another client (a case study), or provides some self-help tips they can apply immediately to get some initial relief.
Hint: Be sure to send the person directly to the permanent link (“permalink”) of the blog post. You can usually find the permanent link of a blog post by clicking on the title of the post so it opens up in a new page, and then copying the URL from your web browser’s address bar.
Blogging and social media don’t replace in-person networking, but using them effectively can help you enhance your relationships – both online and offline.