Someone told me last week: Marcus, I forget, you don’t network. It’s not that I don’t network, it’s just that I don’t see the point of meeting people who aren’t complimentary to my needs and skillsets.Last week, I signed up a networking event. I didn’t want to go initially, however, I had it down on my calendar, I was getting dead bored at home writing kick butt articles like this one, so I figured, why not?
I’m a huge believer in laser targeted marketing.
I know that as an SEO consultant unless I had my own brand up, no one’s going to trust me at networking events, or even at all.
I can’t tell you the number of times business owners looked at me with those: ‘Huh, you’re another freelancer trying to scam me of your $500 a month SEO program huh?’.
So, I’d rather use my time to build my own projects, invest in my own site and write instructive articles like how to DIY SEO and etc.
Okay, I’ll let you in on another good reason why I don’t really attend networking events in an attempt to get clients.
Here’s a good reason: your target audience.
Your Target Audience: Go Where the Fish Are
Let’s say you’re a yoga instructor looking to get your first paying client.
The people that attend networking events are mostly: venture capitalists, freelancers, first time business owners, insurance agents or students. You’re rarely going get a yoga enthusiast that is actively looking for yoga lessons.
These people aren’t your target audience. They aren’t hungry potential clients.
Yes, you can eventually persuade a couple, however, the time and effort used to persuade them to be your client is going be HUGE.
You have to go where the fish are.
You’ll in a much better position if you figured out where your target audience hangs out. Maybe these people are yoga enthusiasts and they go to yoga forums and seminars? Perhaps you can reach out to University and schools and provide free yoga workshops and then give them an option to sign up for a free 1:1 at the end of it?
You see, the people that attend these events are already prequalified. You’ll have a much easier time converting them to paying clients as compared to randomly attending networking events.
Case Study – a 30-Year-Old Accountant Turned First Time Entrepreneur
I met an interesting first time entrepreneur last weekend at a networking event. He’s an accountant/ auditor turned first time entrepreneur. He’s in his thirties and left an auditing firm to start his own accounting firm.
So during the networking session, he went around giving away pretty name cards with his company website and logo from it.
Here’s what went through my head:
His target audience: small medium business owners that require bookkeeping/ accounting services.
The people at that networking session: venture capitalists.
I sat him down and told him that I was willing to share a laser targeted marketing strategy such SEO. Well, let’s just say he wasn’t really persuaded.
He proudly told me that he had 7 days a week networking sessions lined up. He also told me that he didn’t want to focus on building a website until he built a back end portal where clients can log in and etc. I’ve heard of that. This is a common mistake that new entrepreneurs make. It is to focus on all the fluff: the back end fanciful logins as opposed to the marketing of their services.
He then told me that he doesn’t have the budget to spend on marketing and a website. Look, marketing is the lifeline if your business. I also educated him about a couple of grants that the Singapore government provides for small business owners to leverage on. Without leads, you’re out of cash. Without cash, you’re out of business.
When I started out, I invested a good 5 figure sum on digital marketing skillsets. There are no excuses here. If you don’t have the budget to hire a freelance web designer to build one, then you jolly well build it yourself.
Year after year pitching my services, I noticed that SEO is something that a business owner gets immediately or doesn’t.
It’s actually quite simple: get ranked on keywords that people are typing in > get enquiries > get clients.
When Can Networking Help?
Look, I’m not saying completely NO to networking, in fact, I keep a network of business owners on my contact list that I reach out to for a potential collaboration.
Networking can be useful for collaborations and meeting entrepreneurs facing similar problems as you do. However, if you’re looking for your first paying client in a random networking event, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
There is referral based business networking events business is done through referral. That model works extremely well, and I have seen it with my own eyes. However, you’re still relying on people to sell your services.
What you want to build is a marketing system, that works for you 24/7 round the clock, both day and night. You can only accomplish that with an online presence: organic search results.
Furthermore, I prefer selling to strangers. Did you hear of the famous Jack Ma quote?
‘When selling to close friends and family, no matter how much you’re selling to them, they will always feel you’re earning their money, no matter how cheap you sell to them, they still wouldn’t appreciate it.’
‘When doing Sales, the first people who will trust you will be Strangers, Friends will be shielding against you, fair-weather friends will distance from you. Family will look down upon you.’
‘The day you finally succeed, paying the bill for every get-together dinner, entertainment, you will realised: Everyone else is present except the Strangers.’
Well, he’s a billionaire, you should be listening to him.