Recently we have been doing a LOT of networking, attending events and organising them, to get to know how this benefits a small business and if it truly can help grow your business.
As a small independent local business ourselves we share the same understanding of running a business and what advice and support is needed. We felt that networking could be a really good avenue to become part of the local business community and let people get to know us and what the company offers.
We thought we would share some tried and tested methods to help you boss small business networking like a pro...
1. Get out of your comfort zone
It can be super daunting walking into a room of strangers and talking confidently about your business, however after you do it once you will see that everyone is in the same boat and its always way easier than you think. You leave punching the air (metaphorically speaking hopefully) and feel you are a more than capable and confident.
2. Do some prep
Look at who the networking is aimed at and the potential attendees, prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ about you and your business. Make sure you have lots of business cards and any marketing materials on you. Think about what you hope to achieve from the session and be open about that if given the opportunity.
3. No one likes a hard sell
Yes this is a great opportunity to find new potential clients, however no one wants to feel they are being sold to. When you meet someone, introduce your self and firstly enquire (and actively listen!) about their business. Find something you have in common or something you know about their industry and ask questions. Once you have built a good conversation flow, ask the question ‘is there anything I can do to help you’ or ‘what could you do with my help on?’
4. Evening networking
Drinks help. Just don’t go crazy. Stop at one.
When you meet someone and it becomes clear they don’t need your services, think about other people (or potential clients) you know who they might benefit from knowing them and put in an introduction. Giving away free advice and sharing contacts helps build trust and even if they don’t need you now, they might need you in the future or know someone else who does. If you have helped them in a small way you will be remembered favorably.
6. Moving away
Let’s be honest, you are speaking to someone and its clear the conversation is exhausted and you see a really interesting potential client getting her coat on to leave you need to move away sharpish – how do you do this and not be rude? Just say ‘Do you know xxx, could you introduce me’ or ‘it’s been great talking to you, do you mind if I just catch xxxx before she leaves’. People are not there to make lasting friends and won’t be offended so don’t feel you have to be very ‘British’ about it all!
Good luck, the more you do the better you will be.
If you are interested in attending our local business networking events in East London and West Essex drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking to a few interior design clients recently there seems to be a recurrent theme which is presented to me – how do I find the time to use social media when I’m too busy running my business? Does that sound familiar to you?
Well this week I’m going to share some tips on how to use social media effectively to generate leads and grow awareness of your interiors business. First up is Pinterest.
Let’s be honest if you are in interior design, you are in THE best place to use Pinterest – it’s practically created for you. 70 million people have a Pinterest account, 68% are female and on average have a combined household income of £100,000 – your ideal target customer right there!
Tip 1 – Pin 10-30 times a day
Unlike other social channels you need to be pinning a lot! Aim to pin at least 10 times per day and up to 30. However, make sure you space them out so that you’re not pinning a whole load all at once. You can do this via a scheduler app like Buffer. If you have created a content plan each week just take the topics from that and create what you need and schedule them in.
Tip 2 – Rich up your pins
Use rich pins so that users can learn more about where the image came from, how to buy the product featured or where to read more about the article. Which makes your pin totally more useful for your audience (and therefore more likely to be shared or clicked). You do this by first installing a plugin for your site (e.g. WordPress plugin Yoast) and adding the Pinterest code to your blog, validate your site at Pinterest and request Rich Pins, then you’ll get an email from them saying it’s all validated.
Tip 3 – Don’t just pin – explain too!
Add some description into your pin, a few sentences will do but try to include some keywords, something with a positive sentiment and for the audience to do, like click a really useful link. Like all social media, act as though you were speaking to a friend about something – make it interesting or funny, useful, or informative and make it relevant to them. You wouldn’t go up to someone in a room and start telling them all about you, so act that way on Pinterest and in social media in general. Too many times I just see brands posting their latest product, which can be incredibly repetitive and a little dull.
Tip 4 – Create your pictures just for Pinterest
A really handy online tool to use for getting the right aspect ratio right for different social channels is Canva – it has all the formats right there and the editing capabilities for you to have your pins ready in minutes, particularly useful if you find Photoshop a little too complex. Your pins should be vertical and multiple mosaic style pins work really well, particularly if you are showing a ‘How to’ so for instance ‘How to do a quick upcycle of a side table’. Canva have this format too.
Tip 5 – Be a Pin Groupie
Find group boards to join, this will help you get more followers and repins. You can use the tool PinGroupie to find the right boards based on a certain category – filter the ones that have the highest re-pins as these will be the ones people are engaging with the most.
Tip 6 – Create boards with keywords and headlines
A good way of organising your pins is to create themed boards around certain styles or topics like ‘Wallpaper Trends’ or ‘Favourite New Luxe Products’, and design a cover with a headline for each of these boards in a consistent branded way. Categorise them and make sure the boards are keyword rich so that you are found in search.
Tip 7 – Use ‘pin it for later’
When you create a new blog post, remember to pin an image from it to a board and then use that same image on Google+ and put the link to the article on there and a ‘pin for later’ link. This is great because it not only links Google+, your blog and Pinterest but it encourages people to save and remember you later.
I know this is a Top 7 list, but I had to squeeze one more in which is don’t forget to promote Pinterest in your other channels – tweet a new board or share some of your pins in your latest newsletter – make what you’re doing work as hard as it can to big up your brand!
If you want some help planning the content marketing for your interiors company give us a shout, we're always keen to talk to new faces.
In the second part of a series of talks to small businesses and start-ups in Chigwell, Essex Stephanie Wright describes how to come up with unique creative ideas for your content plan that will meet your objectives and engage your audience.