Many people launch an online marketing career in order to work for and by themselves. However, even as an online entrepreneur who works for yourself, you will still most likely need to interact with others to achieve the ultimate success. This is referred to as “relationship marketing” and will make all the difference in the world to the level of success you will be able to achieve.
I knew less than nothing about building a business when I made the decision to come online in 2006. But it did not take me long to understand that if I were to achieve even a modicum of success I would need to find a way to connect and network with people from all walks of life.
Networking is a task that doesn’t have to take much time or effort, but it’s something that you’ll need to do in order to appeal to prospective buyers as well as affiliates who can send you both subscribers and sales.
Making Yourself Available to Those Who Reach Out to You
You, as a marketer, may feel intimidated having to interact with your niche audience. But what you may not realize is that your followers will feel intimidated having to reach out to you as well. There are many people who will continue to stay confused or in the dark about a situation rather than have to contact someone with questions.
Part of the reason they feel uncomfortable is that they don’t want to bother anyone. They feel as if you are an expert and if they take up any of your time, you should be compensated for it – something they may not have money to do.
You want to be known as a niche leader who is there for your target audience to help them outside of purchase situations. Does that mean you have to coach them free until they succeed?
No, of course not. But interacting with and networking with your target audience can generate good will, and it can be in bite-sized amounts. Sometimes networking can be done on social media sites like Facebook, and may be simple banter about something other than the niche topic.
For example, if you’re in the anti aging niche and you have an Instagram account, you might share a picture of you with your pet. Some of your followers may comment about what breed it is, how cute it is, or talk to you about their pet.
These seemingly insignificant conversations that take mere seconds to carry out help your audience feel as if they know you in some small way – which means you’re helping build trust for future purchases of products in that niche.
You’ll want to make it a two-way street. Don’t always allow the conversation to simply come to you. Engage your audience, try to remember their names or little things about them that you can discuss now and then.
With potential affiliates, you might form even closer friendships because you will be fostering a working relationship where you have to speak to each other about more details. Make sure it’s always a mix of business and personal life when you network.
It never has to include private information you don’t want to disclose – it can even be about your favorite foods, but don’t be all business where they never feel as if they got to know you or can trust you.
Making Connections with People Who Can Help Grow Your Business
When you start working online as an Internet marketer, you may feel at times like it’s you against the world. You have to make all of the decisions, learn things on your own, and motivate yourself to take action.
But there are others in the industry who can help you grow your business. Networking with them is a good way to give your efforts a boost whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.
The first group of individuals who can help are those who you look up. This would be other marketers (whether they’re in your niche or not) who have built and sustained an online business for a respectable amount of time.
These people can often spot things you may be doing wrong and offer advice on corrective measures you can take to get yourself on the right track. For example, you might be pricing your products wrong or failing to launch with a funnel – and they can quickly offer their insight.
You never want to assume that this type of situation is going to pay off in terms of free advice from someone who is already successful. Many people who offer insight like this charge a coaching fee to dispense it.
However, if you are friends with this person and naturally interacting and networking with them online, they will often speak up whenever they see a glaring mistake that you’re making.
In this situation, you want to find and network with a group of people on different levels. Some may be below you in terms of success online, some may be on the same level, and others may be far ahead of you.
It’s good to get feedback from a variety of people because often times, the more advanced people forget the little details that you need to know as a beginner. The second group of people that you should mingle with online in order to help grow your business are those who may now or in the future become a part of your team.
Becoming a team member does not necessarily mean they will work for your company. It simply means you might outsource something to them in the future. Even if you didn’t hire someone, it helps to be friends with those who excel at copywriting, graphics, content creation, search engine optimization, paid ads, and more.
That way, whenever you have a question, they may speak up and help you with it. If not, they may be the best people for you to hire in the event that you want to outsource a project to them and free up your time to work on other tasks within your business.
The Right Way to Recruit Others to Promote for You
Another way that you want to network is with those who could promote your product for you and help you earn higher profits as well as beef up your subscriber list. Affiliates can be a valuable resource, so you want to communicate with them carefully and build a genuine relationship with them.
You need to find out who promotes products in your niche. The first place you want to start is by looking at your competitors. Competitors in the world of online marketing are often each other’s greatest supporters. I like to say there is no real competition online, no matter what your niche. Instead, I think of it as “coopetition” where everyone is cooperatively competing with others. This can be extremely profitable, and it’s fun!
You also want to look at affiliates who don’t have their own products on the market, but who do have a list or following in the niche and would be interested in promoting you. To find these people, you can look to see who has a review blog or look at the leaderboards for contests where affiliates were vying for a prize in that niche.
Once you have a list of potential affiliates, you’ll want to spend time getting to know them. Start out by friending them on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.
Relationship Marketing is About Serving Others
If they do have a product of their own, you’ll want to purchase it so that you can see the type of quality they feel is worthy of promotion in the marketplace. If you’re hoping they will promote for you as an affiliate, don’t contact them and ask them for a free review copy of their own product.
One thing you definitely want to do is get on their list as a subscriber to see what their style is like. This will help you determine how to network with them on a social level – are they funny or serious, short and to the point or long-winded?
You’ll also be able to see what they promote from other people. This kind of data can tell you whether or not their list responds well to text based courses or video courses, as well as what topics they promote on a regular basis within the niche.
Be sure and engage with potential affiliates for quite awhile before asking them to promote your product. You’ll want to take this step early on in the development of your online business so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to reach out without it feeling spammy.
When you do have a launch in the works, make sure you contact potential affiliates a few weeks ahead of time. This gives them the opportunity to create a bonus for their buyers.
It also gives them the chance to put you on their schedule in case they have very limited availability in their emails. When you do approach a prospective affiliate, you’ll want to send a few elements of vital importance to their decision making process.
The first is a link to your JV (joint venture) page. You may also want to give them the details about the product and launch in your first communication with them about this subject.
Make sure you send them a complementary review copy of the product. If you want them to promote items in your funnel, then send a copy of those items as well so they can mention it to their readers.
Don’t make them ask for a review copy, and don’t ask them if they want one. Just send it. Make it as convenient as possible for them. Another thing you may want to make clear is whether or not you’re providing any additional perks for them if they come onboard for your lunch. Relationship marketing is about nurturing the relationship!
This might be an increased percentage for their commission, a bonus that you have created for them to give their list, a banner ad spot on your download page, advanced opportunity to promote the product before other affiliates, etc.
Another thing you may want to make clear as whether or not you’re providing any additional perks for them if they come on board for your lunch. This might be an increased percentage for their commission, a bonus that you have created for them to give their list, a banner ad spot on your download page, advanced opportunity to promote the product, etc.
After you’ve sent this communication, make sure you don’t bug the affiliate to give you an answer about whether or not they will be promoting for you. It’s okay to send a quick reminder the night before launch, but if you get too pushy with the situation, they may shut you out and see you as a nuisance. Instead, focus on relationship marketing as a way to build rapport.
Watch Out for Reciprocity Traps
One danger you have to watch out for is getting stuck in a trap of reciprocating with other affiliates to promote their products if they’ll promote for you. This is a common maneuver some marketers make in guilting people to promote their launches. This is the negative side of relationship marketing and you must step away.
But there are problems with this approach. Aside from the ethical issues, if you promise to promote someone else if they promote you, you’re putting your subscribers at risk. And those are the people you should be protecting.
Some top marketers who earn a lot of money don’t necessarily put out decent products themselves, and then you’re on the hook to make a recommendation you don’t truly believe in.
What’s worse is, if you spent time building a rapport with your subscribers, you’re going to have to betray them to fulfill your end of the deal with the other affiliate. So you’re now compromised and they can no longer trust you.
You can always have a rule that you’ll promote for others with the disclaimer of if it’s a good fit for my list. This lets you off the hook because then you can either be honest about the quality, price or other issue – or, simply say it’s not a good fit.
You can expect some pushback from this strategy and also understand that some affiliates make promote you only one time, since you won’t promote them back. But it’s better to have your integrity intact than to burn bridges with the people who paid money to gain your guidance.
Going Above and Beyond with Your Relationship Marketing Efforts
There are other ways you can network with affiliates and customers. One way that’s very popular is to attend niche seminars where your customers can meet you and affiliates can mingle with you as a friend.
These kinds of meetings are held all over the world and often last a few days. During the daytime, there will be work groups and talks to attend, and at night, there’s often a social element where attendees are laughing and having fun and getting to know one another by using relationship marketing.
Keep in mind that sometimes, alcohol is flowing freely at these events, and if you drink too much and embarrass yourself, it may sabotage all of the networking efforts you’ve been doing for weeks, months and years. This is not the type of relationship marketing that will be a positive one for you.
You might also make a group that serves as a mastermind network for you. This is usually a close knit group motivated marketers all striving for further success who get together periodically and share insight and strategy with one another.
There may be a mastermind group that invites you to join them, you can ask around about one, or start one yourself. These individuals often meet up somewhere convenient or even in a virtual setting to help each other grow their success.
Networking can be a fun way to enjoy increased success. It’s also a great way to stave off boredom and loneliness that comes from working for yourself without a normal team atmosphere.
It will allow you to have a support system in place that doesn’t require your friends and family to decipher what it is you want to discuss about online marketing. Even if you’re shy, there’s bound to be a level of networking that keeps you at ease, while simultaneously helping you bolster your business. Engage with relationship marketing and watch your business soar!
I’m bestselling author, marketing strategist, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability.