Pete Matthew is an IFA in the UK. He publishes a weekly podcast about budgeting and getting better with money. If someone is looking for help with their money, I will point them to his show.
Andy Brown is a Google Adwords expert. He has a podcast, blog articles and eBooks. If someone needs help with AdWords, I will share some of his content with them.
Stefan Thomas is a business networking expert. If someone needs help with business networking, I will link them to a few of his blog articles and to his book on Amazon.
Julie Christie is a photographer based in Scotland. If someone is looking for help on how to get better with photography I will send them a link to her blog articles and podcast on beginner photography.
This list can go on and on. (NB: if you’re not on the list, it’s nothing personal)
What’s my point?
For each person on this list, their content is the number one way for me to put them in front of people that I know.
You’ve got a good network, so you probably don’t need content marketing, right?
There’s no question that we now live in a digital age and people are spending a lot more time on the Internet and social media.
Regardless of the digital platforms, people still do business with people that they know, like and trust, and this is particularly the case for small businesses. This isn’t going to change anytime soon.
There are people who don’t think they need to consider content marketing, or any marketing really, because they have a strong network around them.
However I’d like to discuss with you how content marketing can really add value to your already existing network connections and make it a lot easier for people to get referrals and make introductions for you.
What is content?
Throughout this article I mention ‘content’ a lot. Just so you understand what I mean by this, content can be created in many different forms. Here are the most popular types of content:
- Blog posts
- eBooks and guides
In most cases when I mention ‘content’ I’m referring to an owned rich source of content, which is typically a blog, a video channel and/or a podcast channel.
The importance of social sharing
“Research from eMarketer reports that 83 percent of brand marketers view social sharing as the primary benefit of social media because 70 percent of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media updates” – Excerpt from The Content Code page 18, by Mark W. Schaefer.
The excerpt above emphasises just how much people are influenced by what their friends and family share on social media.
If you you don’t have any content, people will not have access to anything they can share on social media. The risk is that they share someone else’s content, i.e. your competitors blogs and videos.
It’s crucial for you to recognise and understand just how important having content that can be shared online will be for your business.
Let’s look at a simple example of how content can lubricate offline networking.
How content can lubricate your offline networking
Imagine that you and I are in the same networking group, and as part of our responsibilities we actively look out for opportunities to refer business to each other through our network.
This is the basic concept of business networking.
However, in most cases it can be difficult to make a really good introduction, especially if the person I’m attempting to introduce you to has never heard of you before.
Now imagine if you had some great content on your website – a blog or perhaps a few videos. Also imagine that you are active and present on social media channels.
It’s significantly easier for me to make introductions to my network through sharing your content. I can do things like retweet on Twitter, share on Facebook, etc.
There are many people that I’d love to refer more often, but the truth is I find it difficult to find the right time to make an introduction and I’m not always entirely sure what to say.
Everything would be so much easier if you had some content that I could share with my network.
Here are the big benefits of how creating content can benefit your networking:
- I can share your content on social media and, without selling, I can extend your reach to my network
- It’s simple and convenient for me to share your content on social – not much effort required from me at all
- In between networking meetings your content will softly remind me that you exist. We’re all busy and you can’t expect people to remember you
- When making introductions by email I can use your content to strengthen introductions
The business case for content marketing
As the short case studies at the start of this article imply, there are many ways in which content marketing can add fuel to your offline networking.
I have highlighted 11 more content marketing benefits in The Business Case for Content Marketing, which you can read here in a new tab.
Perhaps the overarching and biggest benefit for having content available for your network to share is that it will increase the awareness of you, your business and your brand.
In essence, content is the lubrication that allows people like me to get you front of more people, without the hard sell.
- Can you see how content marketing is essential for leveraging your network on digital platforms?
- What content can you create today to make it easy for people like me to introduce you to my network?
- If you are already creating content, what can you do differently to make your content more shareable?
Let me know in the comments section below.
Don’t forget to be awesome!