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Don’t Forget Personal Touch in B2B Networking

By Jan 09, 2013

Connecting by social media is great, but if you want to make an impression to a business contact, try going old school, with a handwritten note.

“I call it a 45-cent investment plan,” says Andrea Nierenberg, president, Nierenberg Consulting Group, noting that while marketers must of course embrace every bit of technology at their disposal, a handwritten follow-up note to a sales call, job interview or meeting at a conference can help differentiate a company.

“When I talk to hiring managers, they say of course send an email as a follow-up, but that it’s nice to get something in the mail as a reminder [of the candidate] as well,” she adds.

Networking both online and offline is an essential part of the multimedia mix for B2B marketers, says Nierenberg. “I always say the opposite of networking is not working, and that life is one big networking platform.”

She advises clients to keep a networking checklist of everything they should do before and after a meeting or event, even if the encounter is with one of your current customers. “After all, even if somebody is buying your product, they could be your competitor’s best prospect.”

Have a checklist, she says. Don’t contact everyone you meet by every possible way available. Find out what the person wants and what way they would be most likely to respond to you.

“I’ve met people at live events who would never respond to an email or phone call—but they will respond to messages on Facebook or LinkedIn,” says Nierenberg. The reality is that social networking has been around since caveman time. There are just so many different ways to do it these days.”

Facebook is a great place to connect with clients, because through give and take conversations you can learn about their interests and gain information you can use in follow-up encounters. But because it is a social networking site with a very personal vibe, be cautious how much you use it for promotion—too much hype will lead followers to unlike or block your messages.

The site can be a great place for professionals like financial service advisors to have a presence, because they can create a persona there that encourages followers to connect with them for future business. “It’s all about how you utilize the network—you need to consider what you want to be known for,” she notes.

While LinkedIn can seem like more of a puzzle to delve into, joining and participating in groups is an obvious way to build a presence there, Nierenberg notes. And while it may seem more like the purview of consumes, even Pinterest can be useful for smaller B2B firms who want to build their brand in a specific niche and share images.

 

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