Business networking is a necessary and important activity for any existing and new business if they want to grow. ‘Networking’ is a broad term and  can mean anything from virtual online networking tools such as blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter to the more established face to face meetings.

Which form works the best? In our opinion a mix of real and virtual networking (social networking) is best. When deciding which networking is likely to produce the best results for your business it is important to be aware of the age range of your targeted customers. Once you are certain of this you will be able to better determine which networking channel is best. Always match the preferences of your targeted customer with your networking strategies.  If you personally feel uncomfortable with the ‘right’ networking channel delegate the task.  It is essential that you or the delegated person feels comfortable with this type of networking.

So, let us help you to understand the ‘normal behaviours’ of the age groups of your target customers so you can choose the most appropriate networking channels: (beware though – not everyone will comply to the ‘norm’)

Baby Boomers

These are people in their 50′s and 60′s and will usually prefer face to face meetings. They tend to be less comfortable with computer communication and they like to interact verbally and when possible, face to face.

Generation X

These are people in their 30′s and 40′s and they tend to be more comfortable with computers and technology. They usually prefer to ‘keep it simple’ and will most likely use LinkedIn and other business social networking websites to network with other people who share the same interests as themselves.

Generation Y

These are people in their teens and 20′s and they are most comfortable in using all forms of technology. This is due to the fact that they grew up with technology and have been exposed to it for most of their lives.  Generation Y people will have a good presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Targeting your message to your readers (business or social networking) is the key to growing your audience and reaching those people who are interested in your products and services. It may sound obvious but directing your message (sales pitch) to the people most interested will greatly increase the number of interested readers that will actually read your website or blog and respond.

So how are you going to network?

Face to face networking

Face to face networking can include formal business networking organisations such as 4Networking, Venture Catalyst, BNI etc. as well as dedicated networking groups specifically aimed at your industry or niche.

If you want to connect with senior level people, attending a grand gala dinner or black tie event may be a better investment than attending a dozen networking breakfasts.

Many professional associations provide excellent networking opportunities for their members to have face to face business networking with each other.

Virtual Networking

There are thousands of excellent social networking tools and websites to be found online with new ones being created almost daily. The best ones are those that can get you in front of your targeted customers and you should take the time to research the best social networking websites for your business.  LinkedIn is a professional networking tool and it seems to be the most accepted internationally for professionals and business owners. Other popular tools include Twitter and Facebook.

If you would like to learn more about how Social Networking can help your business please leave a comment below or visit WSI IMS – WSI Digital Marketing Services for Business in Surrey, Sussex & South East England

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