Networking Event – Success or Failure?

Success or Failure?

Last Wednesday I attended a Network After Work event in Providence, RI. It was my first networking event and I didn’t know what to expect. Now I am not sure if it was a success or failure.

It wasn’t really what I expected. The other attendees were not what I would call my “target market“. Small business owners were few and far between. I was hoping to increase the awareness of my business in my local area as I am trying to transfer from using Elance to attracting clients directly.

Here is the “But”, I did meet some key people who could compliment my services. Hopefully by developing this new connections I can build a mutually beneficial relationship with this other service providers as we share a similar target market.

Question is: Would that be a good idea? Hence my dilemma. These key decisions are so important to a business. There are both Pros and Cons to this. Trying to weigh them out will prove to be difficult.

Overall though, I feel my first event was a success. I got a chance to practice my networking skills and find my tactic to start conversations. I did meet some interesting people and heard how others are handling their various jobs and businesses. So the learning experience was worth it.

I have already started looking for other events in my area. But I will be a little more particular of which events I will attend. Networking is definitely an important part of building a successful business, but you have to pay attention to which events you are attending. If the event is not going to meet your overall goals, then the time spent there will not be productive. And unproductive time spent is a loss for your business.

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Key Points In Marketing Your Small Business

I have been doing research on marketing my virtual assistant services. There is a lot of information out there on the web. Can be rather overwhelming. But I did find 1 good article on About.com (my old stand-by for research). It was titled “101 Small Business Marketing Activities” by Alyssa Gregory.

She talks about some key points in developing a marketing strategy.

  • Marketing Planning
  • Marketing Materials
  • In-Person Networking (something I constantly overlook)
  • Direct Mail (not on Saturdays pretty soon)
  • Advertising
  • Social Media/Internet/Email Marketing
  •  And much more

The 2 major points I took from this article is creating a marketing plan and attending a conference.

Creating a marketing plan helps you to understand your target market. By understanding your target market, you can better reach your potential customers. You also can plan your marketing efforts while keeping within your advertising budget. The hard part is doing the research and pulling it all together. As I delve into my own marketing plan I am seeing not only how important a good plan is, but also that it is harder than it looks to complete.

The second point of attending a conference is a strong point for me. Especially cause I spend all my time working with clients “virtually”. I forget that there is an actual business world out there. Attending a conference gives you a way to connect with people face to face. I see how building a strong off-line network can be a key part to building a successful business. No advertising is better then word-of-mouth. Most people will trust a friend or co-worker opinion over any type of advertising you can develop.

Hopefully I can pull this all together and develop a plan that works for my business.

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