In years past, the way to reach someone in the media was to send out a press release. Ideally, you’d have your local contacts and send the press release as far and wide as you could. Then, services such as PR Web stepped in and promised being able to reach media contacts all across the globe with one push of a button.

Nowadays, the standard press release gets you nowhere. There are so many of them being sent out all the time that it’s just not effective unless you can pay a lot of money for a very targeted list.

If you’re a local business, it pays to develop a relationship with your local media. For newspapers, start by contacting the editor of the business page. Don’t go in person unexpected! They’re busy, and it is viewed as intrusive to just show up without an appointment.

Send a polite email introducing yourself and your business. Avoid being demanding. Ask if there’s room in her schedule for an in-person meeting. Ask if she’s in need of any sources for business-related local articles.

Remember…you’re a real estate agent, perhaps, or a lawyer or a contractor, but you can still speak to trends in that industry. So even though she might not be planning an article about your business per se, you can still be a source for a big picture article.
When you plan an event at your business, invite your media contact. When you have a news item to promote, send your media contact a short to-the-point update. Be patient. It might take several emails before you get a response. But eventually you will get a response and you can be sure that when your media contact needs someone in your field to be a source, she’ll think of you.

Most people are turning to Facebook advertising these days. Nothing wrong with that. But when you’re in a service business, sometimes a local, face-to-face approach might work out in your favor. Most grocery stores print coupons on the back of their receipts for other businesses that have nothing to do with food…guy a loaf of bread and you get a coupon for an oil change. Consider what you could do if you found a complementary business to advertise with or work with.

For example, a gym or spa might have a corkboard holding the business cards of other health service providers they feel good about recommending. Could you get to know them and add your card to the list? Could you get them to add an item in their next newsletter that new gym members get 10% off your services as well?

If they advertise in print, could you split the cost with them and add your offer to the promotion?

Think of the way that wedding planning services work…planners and publications often offer “package deals” where the bride orders catering, flowers, a cake, tailoring services and photography from one vendor. What would happen if you found a network that complemented your niche and began promoting yourself that way? If the opportunity doesn’t exist, would you be willing to put the hard work into creating it?

Photo by on Unsplash

Chances are that you toss that junk mail you get every day without even looking at it. But think again. Depending on your service, the very businesses that are direct mailing you could become a new opportunity. The fact that they’re advertising shows that they’re eager to get new customers. How can you help?

Here are some suggestions:

  • That spa that opened up down the street might want your juice cart to park in front it it for a few hours a week.
  • Perhaps the spa would like to advertise that they partner with a local health coach for consulting.
  • Perhaps the new spa needs a contract for carpet cleaning or floor polishing each month.
  • Perhaps you and the owner can collaborate on the next piece of advertising where you offer a double discount deal for the customers who sign up for both of your services.

Think about what you buy. You are both a business owner and a customer when you support other businesses. Do those other businesses know what you do and that you are a customer?

Ask yourself how you might use the opportunity to build a new relationship with another local business the next time you need to buy something, whether it’s stationary or a cup of coffee. I’m not talking about giving them your elevator pitch, but open a new door through some sort of partnership or collaboration. Perhaps you can offer a trade of your services or products for theirs. This type of deal keeps money in your pocket, allows you to meet new people, and is an opportunity for the new client to tell more people about your services.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

It’s December. This month we typically attend more parties and get-togethers than usual. Even if they are not “business-focused” events, you can still benefit from talking about your work. Here’s how to get the most out of networking at these events.

How to Get the Most Out of Networking: The Basics

  • Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. You don’t want to be remembered as “that girl who got sloppy.”
  • Always carry business cards on you. You don’t need to, or even want to, whip out your business card the first time someone stretches out their hand toward you. If you get to talking with someone and they show some interest in talking with you again or learning more about your business, you should have a card handy. I personally always forget to take my cards out of my card holder in my everyday bag and put them in my special occasion bag. To solve this problem, I preemptively tucked a few into the inside pocket of the bag I carry on nights out, so I don’t have to kick myself if I go out and forget them.
  • Be bold about telling people what opportunities you’re looking for. Let’s just say, that I’m one of many people who are not currently working in the field in which they got their college degree. After I finished my bachelor’s degree I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Whenever I told people I just graduated, I dreaded the follow up questions about my plans.

I honestly told people, “I’m not sure what kind of job I’ll get, but I have a lot of writing experience and am looking for all types of work right now.” Once people learned I had writing experience, I got many comments. People said they needed help with their website, or they wanted help writing press releases. That led to a lot of work. You can do the same. Tell people honestly what experience you have and what you’re trying to do.

How to Get the Most Out of Networking: Intermediate Networking

  • Mingle. If you’re not the social type, it’s easy to stick with the person you came with or the one friend you know in the room. Try to mix and mingle. Find another person who looks uncomfortable and say something to break the ice.
  • Think of some conversation topics ahead of time. Being nervous and put on the spot to say something is the worst! Try to run through some daily news, interesting tidbit or recent experience you’re willing to talk about so you have something to say.
  • Ask questions. If you don’t want to talk about yourself, ask the others how they know the host or what business they’re in. People love talking about themselves and even though you’re not doing much, it makes you seem friendly.
  • Keep at least one hand free of drinks or snacks for shaking hands.
  • Repeat a person’s name to yourself a few times so you remember it.

How to Get the Most Out of Networking: Advanced Networking

  • Make an effective introduction. Make eye contact, have a firm handshake. Have a couple of sentences prepared for when it’s your turn to say what you do. Go into greater detail if the conversation permits it.
  • Try to introduce someone else to another person in the room. I personally think it’s great fun to link people up who have similar interests. If I meet someone who is a photographer and I meet someone who is starting a business, I might suggest they meet to get some custom pics for the new website.
  • Take notes. If you get someone else’s card, jot down on the back of it where you met and who introduced you. It makes it so much easier when you send your follow-up emails. At conventions and conferences, I’ve often picked up cards of people who weren’t actually there or who I didn’t actually meet. Later on, I often get mixed up about who’s who.
  • Use social media wisely. As tempting as it may be to fire off a Facebook friend request, be judicious about how personal to get. Understand which platform is best conducive to your business relationship and connect with them there, perhaps LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • Follow up. A few days after the event, send emails to anyone you met that you want to keep in contact with. Personalize each email. Remind the person where you met and who introduced you. They might forget if they didn’t take notes like we recommended above! Don’t just send a generic LinkedIn invite.