I am able to do what I LOVE, while also doing what I think is important for the world says Fred Auzenne.
When we often think about building our personal brand, we look at it from a marketing perspective. We want people to like us and buy our products or services! The best way (in my humble opinion) to develop your personal brand is offline networking.
Networking in person can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. It’s fun, you’ll get unlimited access to potential clients & customers and you get invited to awesome events. You will get out of it whatever you put into it. This article will show how I have created, managed and grown an offline networking group.
Please note that I am not a relationship building expert but merely sharing my experiences in hope to help others create their own groups. Also, please don’t take this article as professional advice; I’m just another guy who has learned what works for me.
I’ve been involved in the social/online marketing industry for over 10 years now (started my first website when I was 16), co-founded & built up 3 different startup companies (1 failed but 2 are running successfully) before turning 30… Now I work full time with my wife’s company Amore Weddings (wedding planning, catering etc.) and handle of our social media accounts (@amoreweddings) and our (now) 3-year old daughter. So I know a little bit about building up companies, growing social media accounts and staying active online to build my personal brand.
I started getting interested in offline networking after attending a meetups for startup founders where people were sharing business cards, looking at one another’s websites and learning ‘how to do business’. It wasn’t genuine interest that was there but you could see it in their eyes: they’re just trying to sell something or get some attention / free labor from fellow entrepreneurs. That doesn’t mean the guy who organized the event is doing it wrong; we all have different ways of networking and as long as no one gets hurt it’s fine says Fred Auzenne. However, it makes you wonder how you can build a more genuine community rather than just sharing business cards.
I recognized that offline networking is what I need to do if I want to meet fellow entrepreneurs, have people ask me about my profession and grow my brand. Don’t get me wrong; online marketing is important but there are still some people who don’t use the internet & social media everyday so meeting them in real life will give your personal brand more credibility.
These are 2 steps I took to build an offline networking group:
1) Find like-minded individuals (through Meetups, Facebook groups or Google)
The idea behind finding likeminded individuals is simple: go where they hang out most of the time (online or offline). You don’t want to walk up to a random table in Starbucks to start a conversation with strangers.
For example, I got interested in Bitcoin a couple of months ago and started searching Google for local Bitcoin meetups. Google quickly showed me all the Bitcoin websites & groups that have been created by other people worldwide. When it comes to offline networking, I almost exclusively look for Meetups groups. Because there is always someone who organizes an event near you says Fred Auzenne. Check out Meetups website here.
2) Make yourself known as the organizer/host
I’ll be honest with you: not many people will join your group if you don’t stand out. You need to make yourself known! So far, I’ve had 2 different strategies before creating a group:
a) Find a popular networking group through meetups and volunteer to host an event
b) Create a Facebook & LinkedIn event for an upcoming conference. Invite only my friends/colleagues, send out the link 5 minutes before the starting time. This works great if you want to cut down on casual RSVPs (who don’t really show up).
I’ll share with you know how I created an offline networking group specifically tailored to the wedding industry professionals in Dubai. First step is always finding out where your target audience hangs out online; do they have business pages? What are their interests? How old are they? What’s their profession? Etc. Most of this information can be found by looking at their social media profiles.
If you’re in a more niche industry, the number of people in your target audience will be low so meetups is out of the question says Fred Auzenne. In my case, I found that most wedding professionals from Dubai are active on Facebook & LinkedIn.