As a business owner you know there are many things you can hire a marketing agency to do for you. Everything from writing blog articles, creating images or videos, scheduling social media, writing emails, and even PPC services are easily delegated so you can focus on running your company. Does your website need its plugins updated? No worries, that is something your website maintenance plan covers.
The one thing you can never delegate to your marketing agency or anyone else is in-person networking. You are the only you. The only person who represents your company as the business owner.
Networking has many advantages. Not only will you meet your neighbors, you may connect with colleagues and other business owners in similar niche industries who are looking to partner in creative ways you haven’t considered. Networking also has the potential to improve your Local SEO.
Whether you are a business owner with a brick and mortar location, or you work from a home office, if you want to increase awareness about your business in your community, you need to schedule time to network.
Depending on where you are located, the opportunities to join established networking organizations will vary. However, you may find that it’s worth the effort to invite a group of like-minded professionals to meet once a month if a group does not already exist in your area.
Before you do so check with your Chamber of Commerce, Park District, and Rotary chapters to see if there are local groups of business owners meeting for networking events.
In my area the networking opportunities I know of include:
- Rotary lunches
- Women’s Small Business Association lunches and networking events
- Business Networking International monthly meetings
- Remote Worker lunch and learns
- Christian Entrepreneurs weekly breakfasts
- Farmer and Agriculture Technology meet-ups
- Start Up meet-ups
- Tech Meet Ups
- CEO Round Tables
- Food Truck meet-ups
- Writers meetings
The opportunities are not all applicable for every business owner, however, every event I’ve attended so far has incorporated a similar goal. Everyone is motivated to make their company more visible in the community. They are happy to promote other businesses when it makes sense and partner together to serve the community. They understand that networking has the potential to elevate the Local SEO of both companies.
In addition to attending local lunches or meetings, there are additional ways to conduct in-person networking in your community.
Host a Free Event
Using Facebook, Google My Business, Meetup, and Eventbright you can promote a free event online. You can use Canva to create a free graphic that will fit each individual platform separately. Here is an example of what it looks like to add an event to your Google My Business page.
With free promotion taken care of, you can create an in-person event that will serve your buyer persona well and support your business.
Let’s say you work in real estate. You may want to consider doing a presentation on staging your house or great ideas for curb appeal.
A bank or financial consultant could do a presentation on how to get started with investing. Another option would be to present ways to increase cash flow as a small business owner. Knowing who your target persona is will help drive this decision.
Hosting a free event shows your community that their best interests are your priority and it builds trust. When you put together a helpful presentation you will find those in attendance are willing to talk about you with their friends and family as well.
Place Your Logo Everywhere
Everywhere may be an exaggeration, however, there is nothing wrong with incorporating your logo into as many things as you can. When donating a basket to the local PTA auction you should include a business card. When sponsoring a club soccer team add your logo to the jerseys. Did the local high school request advertising for their media guide? Great! Add one that wishes the team good luck from your company.
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Toss your business card into drawings for free lunches, wear clothing with your company logo on it when out in the community and carry a binder or bag that also promotes your business. You may want to consider adding a decal to your car as well.
Take your support a step further by supporting the local teams in person while wearing your company logo shirt. You may enjoy the game and increase your opportunities to meet new potential customers.
Buy pens and give them away. Include your company information. When someone asks to borrow a pen tell them to feel free to keep it. Hopefully, they will use it often and keep your company fresh in their mind.
The more frequently people catch a glimpse of your logo the more curious they will be to learn about this business that continues to cross their path and invest in the community.
Leverage Social Media
Just because you are networking in-person doesn’t mean you can’t use social media. Take a selfie at a networking event with a colleague and tag them with a caption about how great it is to get to know more about their company.
Partnering together with local companies on projects or at different local fundraisers is a great way to show your community you are invested in establishing deep roots and supporting other businesses.
You can also use social media to welcome new businesses to the community. A little good will never hurt anyone, and the new business will likely be very thankful for the warm welcome and will remember your name. When the time is right you can follow up and meet the new business owner in person and see if there is a way for your companies to collaborate.
Offer Referral Discounts
One of the best ways to thank loyal customers is by offering referral discounts. When you have developed a great relationship with a customer who trusts you and believes in your company they are likely already referring people your way. Let your customers know when you see them that you have a referral program.
Reward your loyal evangelists by sending them a coupon for a discount on a future purchase or if they are on monthly retainer delight them by reducing their bill one month with a note thanking them for referring you to new customers.
How Networking Improves Local SEO
Every time you attend a networking event you have an opportunity to tell people about your business. As you increase people’s awareness, they will check out your social media pages and website so that when they need your services, they can quickly find you.
The more people that search for your website and business location the better. Google algorithms are constantly updated as Google is able to understand searchers’ intent better.
Google’s main goal is to query the most useful search results for users so they continue to trust Google to help them find the answers to their problems. Once a potential client has visited a website when they search for similar results the same information will pull up again with a shaded link that is purple instead of blue indicating that it is a website they have visited before.
The more awareness people have about your business the more likely they are to call you when they need your services, recommend you, and look to partner with you. All of these are excellent opportunities to increase your Local SEO.
Community involvement and networking gives you an opportunity to add a page to your website featuring your community activities. You can write little summaries and include optimized pictures with alt tags that include the name of the event, the company, and location. You can also link to the event in your summary.
For example, if you sponsor the local little league team you could post a few photos of the championship game and congratulate the team on a great season. Since you have placed your logo on the uniforms you don’t necessarily needs to be in the photos, however you will want to get permission to place them on your website.
This will improve Local SEO by incorporating additional location information on your website. The location information will help Google web crawlers index your site accurately for location search queries. An added benefit is that this builds trust with local community members who will see your involvement in action.
If you aren’t incorporating in-person networking into your marketing tool belt I encourage you to delegate as much as you can to your marketing agency and focus on doing what only you as the business owner can do, be you!