Relationship Building Requires Follow-up

Checking in is never a bad idea. Whether to make sure ideas discussed at a meeting were shared in a clear fashion or to otherwise cement your interest in a connection, it’s always a good idea to approach a good situation a second time with a clearer understanding of what you want and how you can help should the occasion arise. This is especially important to note following social events.

Networking is much more than showing up and passing around business cards. To truly connect with people, you have to be willing to put in the extra leg work to schedule a follow-up meeting. By doing this, you set yourself apart as an individual truly invested in developing relationships with those you call back. After this follow-up, you’ll have a much more secure standing with the connections in question.

More Than a Meeting

Keep in mind that a follow-up is more than just agreeing to have conversation over coffee. It’s your time to develop a business plan in regard to what this connection could bring about. Learn what you can about them in order to come up talking points. Study the position they play in the company they work for so you can better understand possible offers they could bring to you or even how you can support them and build a stronger relationship.   Take this time to understand their background is a great way to pursue the relationship further without being blindsided or disappointed due to your own imaginings.

Follow-ups are also more than just one meeting. In order to keep up a relationship, you have to be willing to agree to continue your conversations at many points in the future. By forever sharing recent memories together, you stay fresh in their minds, even if it is just for a 15 minute break over a cup of coffee. This way, you are always at the forefront if they come across a job opening or sales opportunity that would further bolster your position.

Offer First

It’s no secret that we connect with others with the slight hope they will offer us payback in the future. However, this will never happen if you don’t approach the situation as a giver. Setting up meetings is a definite step in the right direction as it offers them your time and your attention.  Their agreeing is payback with their own time. From there, offer what you can based on anything that came up during your talks. Did they mention needing a new babysitter? Give them the contact info of yours. Did they rave about the symphony? Invite them to join you for a night at the music hall. No matter how big or how small, it’s a way to be altruistic and place yourself in a good position in their mind.

To build on this, always make sure that what you’re offering is as clear as possible. Miscommunication can be an immediate relationship killer, depending on the person in question. Where some people laugh off little mistakes, others take them personally and refuse any further contact.

Know Your Goals

To make this follow-up beneficial for you as well, don’t schedule anything until you have a definite goal in mind. It doesn’t have to be anything more than getting their direct line at work, but it has to be something. This will provide you with the motivation to seek them out and schedule them into your already busy day. It will also give you a way to drive conversation if it proves to be a little less exciting than it was at the event you met. To further make this easier, give yourself more than one goal and see how many you can hit before time runs out. This way, should you hit one brick wall, you’ll have a few options of where to go without seeming like an indignant person that just doesn’t know when to stop.

Remember that going in with a goal also takes a bit of societal acumen. If you’re looking for job openings, don’t ask them about it straight out of the gate. Start with friendly talk then steer the conversation toward the topic of jobs. Then, if the situation presents itself, you pounce. Because of this, you may swing and miss at the first few networking follow-ups you pursue. Allow for these mistakes so long as you promise yourself you’ll learn from them. With time, you’ll be a networking master.

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.

The Social City: Social WiFi and Hotspot Marketing

With today’s WiFi capabilities, the practice of social WiFi is starting to seem much smaller on the grand scale of potential. Where the possibility existed with just one store, entire areas are beginning to pop up, uniting once scattered locations under a blanketed network. Even something as small as a shopping center is enough to render data necessary for helping the entire area flourish, not just individual stores.

Social WiFi & Hotspot Marketing

It’s no secret that the more famous social WiFi generators, such as coffee shops, offer free internet with a purpose. Though you are gifted relatively fast, free internet upon ordering your drink, what you give back far outweighs any monthly bills. After all, this “free” internet is paid for with your data. From the sites you visit to your path around the store, everything businesses can collect and analyze is information they can use to make themselves more appealing by making your experience even better.

Taking this a step further, this connection to all customers within the store means that companies can immediately connect and interact without interrupting or being too pushy. Simple things such as “thank you” text messages or immediately sent emails with coupons in them all serve to attract the customer to come back one more time, improving customer retention and conversion.

Expanding to a Social City

Sometimes storewide reach isn’t enough. Take Hinckley town center, for instance. As the second largest town in Leicestershire, it boasts an extremely popular market full of high end fashion, fine dining and department stores. According to the case study put together by Purple WiFi, this collection of shops just wasn’t enough. The “Hinckley Town Partnership hope[d] that the new free WiFi [would] enhance the online experience when out and about in the area.” Simply put, Hinckley aimed to make technology the core of the city’s shopping experience.

The goal was to connect visitors with unrestricted WiFi at all major areas in the city, combining a system that could deliver real-time updates with the collection of visitor data. For this project, they turned to the engineering prowess of Purple WiFi. Because the demands were so unique, the solution was actually specifically built for the city. With the longest distance being 1.2km, it was challenging coming up with a continuous signal that would envelope the entire area. The answer came by “mounting Ubiquiti hardware to various lamp posts.” The traffic is then collected and sent to a central, managed connection.

Embracing the City

Moving from a store-based approach to a city-based strategy comes with added benefits. First and foremost, stores in Hinckley no longer need to worry about setting up their own WiFi for customers. Instead, they can use what’s been set up by the city, making the area even more appealing to the brands that want to get in on the WiFi hotspot action without investing the time and effort it takes to determine how to make it happen on an individual basis.

Beyond this store appeal, it’s a tactic that benefits the entire area as a whole. Those in charge of the city can now interact with their locals and visitors on an unprecedented scale, sending out SMS messages regarding various sales around the area or events going on. There are even social media portals that can be accessed to vastly increase chatter on places like Facebook and Twitter. The other side of this is that the entire area can then receive immediate feedback on what the populace is thinking about their various events, helping them further tailor the area to the wants of the customer base.

In the end, though, it all comes down to how much data your WiFi hotspots can gather. As in Hinckley’s case, they decided to go with Purple WiFi because of the type of data it offered them. Instead of restrictive options that could only place the footfalls, it’s the more advanced options that really make free WiFi across an entire city worth it. Including what stores are visited, what sites are visited, social media popularity and even gender and age, this information is pivotal for the city to continually enhance its attraction to users. By playing to the preferences of those that visit, Hinckley can expect to see unprecedented growth by using citywide WiFi to not only promote the city and its stores but encouraging more than one return trip.

Quality Connections are the Goal

A lot of social media woes can be traced back to the wrong choice of platform to engage customers through. [tweet this]

This goes back to your market research. At the very beginning, find out where your target audience is most likely to hang out (pun unintended). Not every social media platform will work for your business, and you shouldn’t establish a presence in all of them, especially if doing so will spread you thin. As a small business owner, focus your efforts with platforms that are compatible with your company’s marketing approach and offerings.

Quality content

Social media is meant to be a way to engage and interact with clients and consumers, not an avenue for the company’s sales pitch. Aim to post information that contributes meaningful and insightful knowledge. If you use social media for advertising purposes, you are more likely to reach a wider audience who will boost your follower numbers, but won’t be true brand advocates.

Numbers don’t equate to success

If you are seeking an audience that will be happy to engage you in meaningful conversations and dialogue meant to grow business, numbers will not be your focus. A lot of marketers make the mistake of focusing on the numbers.  Most likely, the thousands of followers will be people who don’t care about your business, and are only there to boost their numbers as well.

Rather than focus on numbers, try and grow your community through offering targeted information and incentives. Doing this means performing the necessary market research to determine who your target audience will be. Provide them with useful content, and integrate word of mouth marketing tactics with them. Over time, you’ll be able to build a loyal fan-base and witness far less follower’ attrition when a promotion or competition you broadcasted over social media ends.

Let the conversation flow

All this time, listen to what your followers say about the business, and encourage them to interact with you. Fans that interact genuinely with you are those that already like your product/service, so avoid pushing your marketing message on them. Social media engagement should reflect a casual flow of conversation, one that is rich with advice and valuable content. Always listen and take the opportunities to address any complaints and concerns; it shows that you value what the fans say.

Aim to make fan interactions two-way. Besides offering regular posts, tweets, and updates, acknowledge fans that want to actively and genuinely engage with the brand. The more interaction you have, the better an impression you are leaving on the fans, who will spread the good word about your business to others.

Slow and steady

Building quality connections is all about taking it slow, like a long-term relationship, so to speak. If you are in it for instant gratification of large followings that mean nothing to the business, then you’ll resort to the sales pitch and advertising/self-promotion strategies. When you want your connections to mean something to your business, who engage and help you grow the brand as a whole, then you’ll cultivate them from potential customers to eventual brand loyalists.

Though using social media is easy, it takes time and thought to grow a quality social media following. Daily monitoring, providing valuable and informative content, giving fans a chance to engage with the brand, and generally taking it slow are the ways to build quality connections. Social media shouldn’t be viewed as a one-off investment, but rather as a long term avenue to engage and interact with loyal fans.

Choose the right platforms

For many social media marketers, there is always a tendency to do too much. Most of the time, this has to do with the fact that social media platforms are easy to use. Updating your status updates on multiple platforms will only take a matter of minutes, and monitoring retweets, mentions, likes, and shares is as easy as using a single app. This all makes life easier, but the key to establishing a quality following on social media is through care and consideration.

This aspect is more so important when it comes to building a community of loyal fans. The more the better, right? This may not always be the best strategy, especially where you are looking to build a quality following. Your key consideration should not be how many people follow your business on social media, but how many really appreciate the brand and can advocate for it in their private personal networks.

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.