I am the worst networker. Actually, I’m not the worst in execution. I enjoy meeting people and can typically direct the conversation so the other person is talking about themselves (instead of me blabbing incessantly, which I never do, I never talk needlessly it’s just not my style). It’s just that I don’t enjoy networking. Networking events kind of creep me out – I don’t like meeting people under the pretense that they can do something for me and vice versa. I make excuses to not attend meet-ups and mixers despite their known benefits.
I often feel guilt at my failure to network in a vibrant tech and new media community. Yet, despite being a failed Nashville networker, I’ve grown my client list and business each month since I’ve started. I’ve recently realized that there is more to growing your business than networking and “who you know.” In fact, there are two components to growth that have nothing to do with meet-ups.
If you’re website is done incorrectly with confusing navigation, poor aesthetics and ineffective calls to action then it doesn’t matter how many business cards you hand out. Your website must do the following (in no particular order) to establish you as an authority in your field and help grow your business:
- Look good.
- Function properly
- Entice viewers to partake in calls to action.
- Capture leads/contact information
Beyond this, your website must have fundamental search engine optimization efforts in place to make sure you’re found among (or above) your top competitors.
Word of Mouth
Just like your website, it doesn’t matter how many people you meet if the work you do is subpar. The best advertisement you can have isn’t on a billboard or in a weekly insert, but out of the mouths of satisfied clients who want other people to benefit from your services. Take care of your customers and they’ll take care of you.
I’m a failed networker who has faced many challenges along the road of self-employment. Yet what I’ve missed in networking opportunities I’ve gained in customers who have found me through my website and recommended me to other clients. While there is much to be gained from networking opportunities it’s important to have fundamentals down to retain clientele and ensure growth.