By Margott Weltin

SCORE

Relying solely on digital advertising and marketing can be risky for business owners, especially for new businesses in a community such as ours.

Social media allows businesses and other organizations to grow their visibility to a global audience, but there is no substitution for offline, in-person marketing.

Human interaction is the foundation of strong relationships, and creating such connections is the core to a sustainable business. People generally want to do business with people they know and like. A handshake, smile and short conversation is a great beginning to creating a dynamic connection with your potential customer or client. It allows you to show off your passion and excitement for your brand, service or product that cannot happen with just 280 characters.

Listening is also an important networking tool. You can learn a lot more about your customers in person than you can from online interactions. When you meet people face-to-face, you have an opportunity to learn about what is important to them and how your company can help with their needs and goals. It helps to build trust, understanding, and a shared mission that is critical to building a successful business and community.

The information you gain from face-to-face meetings can help shape your future marketing and product decisions and can also lead to finding business partners and collaborators. You never know when a spark in a conversation can lead to a fruitful idea or business practice that helps to make your company better.

Where to network

• Chamber of Commerce mixers are a great way to meet other business owners in your community. Most chambers welcome non-members to attend their mixers.

• Service Clubs such as Elks, Moose, Rotary, Kiwanis and the like help to connect you to your neighbors and shows your commitment to your community.

• Business lead clubs such as BNI, Gold Star, Sierra Professional Association and the Professional Referral Organization of Sonora give you many opportunities for business referrals, networking, and socializing.

• Attend, host and sponsor events where you can get your brand in front of the right people.

• Hold workshops or speak at other organization’s events. This puts you in front of potential customers and positions you as an expert in your field.

• Donate products or services to charitable raffles, auctions and events. Be sure to attend those events so attendees can put a face to the name.

• Volunteer or partner with a nonprofit for a charity event to shine a positive light on your company.

• Having a booth or table at a trade show or business expo will expose your company to the people in your industry and community.

• Have a professional name tag made with your first and last names and the name of your business to help people remember you and your company.

Do not just go once or twice. Getting out there and being seen consistently shows your commitment to your business, clients and community. Be an active participant in the well being of the overall business community by joining one or more of the above types of organizations.

You are twice as likely to convert prospects into customers with an in-person meeting. The likelihood of getting a “yes” increases, because it is so much easier to say “no” in an email or on a phone call.

Keep in mind that face-to-face marketing, like social marketing, should only be one component of your overall marketing plan. You can not be everywhere all the time. Personal interactions provide you with significant business benefits and opportunities to build trust between you and your customers. However, when thoughtfully combined with social media, digital marketing and public relations, offline marketing will blend seamlessly into your overall communications strategy, making you and your brand more memorable as well.

If you need additional help in moving your business forward, SC̈ORE Tuolumne County has mentors with a range of experience who can apply to your business or that new business startup and the service confidential and free. Visit www.tuolumnecounty.score.org and click on Get Started: Request A meeting. A SCORE mentor will contact you at your convenience.

SCORE Tuolumne County is a charter branch of the national organization under the SBA. Contact Margott Weltin of Weltin Design at mweltin@weltin.com .

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