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Now’s The Time To Make The Shift From Physical to Digital — Grow and Expand your Local Network Online

Two years ago, my side gig of five years had grown enough to become my full-time business. The social media marketing empire of my dreams was becoming a reality and I was determined to take it as far as it could go. That meant building relationships and finding my tribe.

How does the phrase go? “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I couldn’t agree more, especially in the world of business ownership. Yes, you have to know your stuff, but getting out there and finding your people is critical to your business success. I don’t mean running Facebook ads or buying an email list. I mean physically getting out there, having meaningful conversations, and finding out what people need and how I can help them with my expertise. It’s an old-school way of doing business, sure, but it works.

As an introverted extrovert, the in-person way of growing my network helps me amplify rapport and connections while still maintaining approachability during sit-down conversations. The reality is, my target audience is mostly local small business owners who are thick in the weeds of running their own company and aren’t spending every waking hour online. If I want to meet them, I have to meet with them.

So, I’ve spent the past two years doubling down on those IRL (in real life) business relationships. My planner is bursting with coffee catch-ups and networking events. I attend a minimum of 4-6 networking events a month on top of my weekly Thursday morning networking meet-up. I’ve made it a goal to talk to someone new every day – even if that means saying “hi” to someone in line at the grocery store.

All the intentional hustling worked. Life was good and business was good. I was fostering valuable connections with prospects and building relationships among my local business owner network. Most importantly, I was consistently closing deals.

But then COVID-19 pressed “pause” on life as we know it.

Overnight, all my usual ways of organically growing my business were off the table. Going out and meeting people became verboten. Conversing in grocery store lines quickly became a thing of the past. And in-person networking events, forget about it.

So instead of pressing pause on my business growth, I had to get creative – I had to double down on the thing I help small businesses leverage — social media! So, between bouncing on and off Zoom calls with clients, prospects, and networking partners, I’m showing up for my audience on social media platforms where they’re hanging out a lot more lately.

 

Here are a few ways to network on social media and attract new prospects to your corner of the internet. 

1. Do Collaborations Show up on video with someone like-minded in your industry. It’s a win-win for you both since you may have similar audiences, but you both focus on different solutions or offerings. You get exposed to their network, and they get exposed to yours! I did this a few weeks ago, and it led to two new prospects booking a call with me.

2. Join Facebook Groups — During these times, I always crave a sense of community, and many hyper-niche Facebook groups can help you bounce ideas, find collaboration partners, and grow your prospect pipeline.

3. Share Your Expertise Whether it’s through a blog, video, or quick tip post accompanied by a photo. Sharing valuable information with your audience allows them to understand what you do and how you could help them. Also, it positions you as a thought leader in your field.

4. Engage Locally — Do you have a favorite restaurant, dental office, realtor, or other business owner in your community? If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in on them, reach out by liking and leaving relevant comments on their content. Even better? Share their content with your audience to help them amplify their reach locally during these times.

5. Be Consistent — Right now, this is the area where I’ve seen myself and others in my network crushing it. Showing up consistently for your audience keeps you top of mind when we’re not interacting in person right now.

I’m so grateful to have the power of social media to continue to drive my business forward during this challenging time. What ways are you leveraging social media to expand your network? Take a moment and share your ideas with us below.

 

About Karlyn Ankrom

Karlyn  is a Northern Virginia-based social media strategist, content creation expert, and founder of Oh Snap! Social who helps small businesses and startups secure visibility and dollars from ideal customers and clients. Backed by a degree in journalism and cultural communications, she’s spent the past decade working to empower business owners and their teams to take the reins of their social media efforts to the next level. When she’s not in work mode, Karlyn is tap dancing her way through the week teaching dance in the evenings at her hometown studio in Burke, VA. You can find her serving up no-nonsense talk and heaps of creativity over on LinkedIn  and Twitter.

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