If you want to close a new customer, you first have to build a relationship with them. We all know that, right?
But what if you could build that relationship by creating valuable content with that potential customer?
That’s the magic behind content-based networking. And James Carbury, Founder of Sweetfish Media and co-host of the B2B Growth podcast, is one leader doing this really well.
After a few years of working for an entrepreneur, James knew he eventually wanted to start his own company. So in 2015, he launched SweetFish Media where they produce podcasts for 75 really innovative B2B companies. He quickly learned how pivotal relationships are with people he could ultimately do business with.
Content-based networking at SweetFish was born out of his desire as a brand and business owner to build very strategic relationships with the exact people who could propel his business to the next level.
What Makes it So Special?
Content-based networking, and podcasting in particular, delivers a lot of impact for minimal effort because it’s streamlined and efficient. You’re establishing your own thought leadership and building your personal brand simply by hosting a show. And while you’re creating that content you’re simultaneously building one-to-one relationships with the exact people you want to know.
That could be a potential customer or if you want to speak on more stages you can leverage your podcast to invite conference organizers onto your show. An actress could use it to develop relationships with casting directors or authors could use their show to connect with teachers. There are so many different use cases.
Industrial executives want to meet people who they can do business with so what better platform than a podcast, a blog series or a video series to collaborate with the exact people you want to know that can help you grow your business.
Instead of sitting around hoping to meet the right people and make the right connections, you can guarantee to meet with those people simply by asking them to be an expert guest on your show. Plus, it’s very flattering to people.
Content-based networking makes you a person of value in three ways:
- The experience and expertise you learn through the process of interviewing experts makes you more valuable.
- The relationships you build and the depth of your network. The more people you know, the more opportunities you open up not just for yourself but for others as well.
- You’re now someone in the media, you’re a journalist. You provide reach and can help amplify someone’s message, and that’s valuable.
Follow These Five Steps to Use Content-Based Networking Successfully
Step 1: Identify a target audience:
Knowing who your target audience is comes down to your goals. Are you trying to acquire customers? Then you probably want to interview potential customers. Are you rolling out a partnership program? Then think about who you want in that program.
You have to assess your goals and what types of relationships are going to move you farthest and fastest. Take that persona and go backwards. Think about what kind of show you need to have or what kind of marketing collateral you need to create that would attract that persona. Most importantly, focus. Don’t try and market to everyone. Niche down and be the best at what you’re doing.
Step 2: Find and connect with that audience:
James says, in sales development, people get messaging grossly wrong. They lead with a pitch or a seven-paragraph email about their product or try to book a demo in the first email. Messaging that really engages people is short, to the point and asks a very clear, easy-to-answer question.
For example, the ideal guest on B2B Growth is a VP of Marketing at a B2B company with 50+ employees. When he identifies someone with that persona, he’ll reach out on LinkedIn and say, heard you on so and so podcast, would love to have you on ours. Up for it? If they don’t respond on LinkedIn, he’ll follow up via email or Twitter.
Follow up is crucial but having brevity in that initial message is huge. Here are some fast tips:
- Make sure you look credible and not like a scam
- If you try to say all the things you’ll look like more of a scam
- Give them a quick call to action
- Once they respond, give them more detail
Step 3: Do the interview/collaboration
This one’s self-explanatory. Be professional, make a good impression and build rapport.
Step 4: Reconnect
Once you’ve done the interview, it’s so important to reconnect with these people. You typically go into the first interview as strangers. But it’s what happens after that initial interview where true impact happens. That’s when you actually try and make these people your friends.
You can collaborate with them again on another piece of content or reach out if you’re going to be in their city for an in-person meet up. When you do this, it becomes an ongoing friendship.
Step 5: Ask for their business
This part was really hard in the beginning for James, as is for most people. Until he changed his perspective. When he came to the realization that he genuinely wanted to add value to these people’s lives, it stopped him from feeling bad for asking for their business regardless if they bought or not.
This was life-changing for his business. He went from passively having a ton of relationships to strategically leveraging them to catapult his business. Last year they grew 300% and a huge part of that was they just started asking. You never know unless you ask.
So there you have it. A foolproof, five-step method to start using content-based networking to build your business. How could you implement this method in your unique business?
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