5 Ways to Merge Your Online and Offline Influence and Use it to Your Business Advantage
Using the internet to reach your readers is something that most of us have no problem doing. Connecting IRL (in real life) with readers is also an excellent way to get to know your target market, multiply your reach, and magnify your influence.
There are so many ways you can get involved with your local community on a personal level:
- offline meetings
- volunteer locally
- get involved in schools
- volunteer at places of worship or their outreaches
- local businesses' events
- community events
and each of these real life interactions can be just as important as any online marketing effort.
Regardless of your type of business, part of your marketing plan should include, somewhere, a plan to be involved at the local, real life level. Retail businesses, service based businesses, blogs, or even online educational businesses can flourish more both because of the experiences you will gain and because of the influence you will have in your local community.
Here are some examples of how to use the online communities as an avenue to collaborate on local real life meetings and events, rather than letting the online community be “the event” itself.
1. Join the Chamber of Commerce
Don't just join; get involved. Jen Reyneri of Word Traveling joined her local Chamber and ended up supervising the Social Media for her County Fair!
People love doing business with others that they know, and networking with other local businesses means that they will be more likely to refer people and business to you.
2. Become a local news resource
You can offer to be a resource for a local reporter, sending them tips and ideas for stories or interviews. Kristen Hewitt went a step further and became a reporter herself. She writes at Mommy in Sports but is also a reporter/producer for the Miami Heat.
3. Create a local shopping incentive program
Even if you sell your products and services online, you can create a special incentive for your local community that will garner trust and appreciation from the locals and also increase your own local sales. You can also gather, organize and promote local sales and businesses, like Maggie Miller of Family Frugal Fun does for her area of Maryland.
4. Become a local teacher
Do you know blogging, scrapbooking, essential oils, or some other marketable skill? Offer to teach a class at your local library, learning center, women's center, church or a business group, or even by renting a place and advertising it yourself.
Sara Broers of Social Connections started the North Iowa Bloggers facebook group so she could get to know other bloggers in her area. They now meet monthly in real life, to have breakfast and hear an educational talk, an event that brings local bloggers and business together for shared learning and partnerships.
5. Host a local event
Whether for business or charity, hosting a local event is a great way to connect the online and offline worlds. Virginia George of VirginiaGeorge.com did this recently when she planned an afternoon Garden Party and coordinated several friends to bring some snacks and host a table displaying their products and services in her back yard. They all invited their own friends and acquaintances and introduced them to the other friends' enterprises.
Just as with your online endeavors, you want to be in all of the places where you expect your ideal reader to be and make connections with them in as many different ways as you can. If your audience is there, you need to be there too, making sure that your business name, your name, and your products (and/or service names) are at the forefront of their minds, and the top of their stack of business cards.
By building good rapport, support and recognition in your local community through connecting with people in real life events and situations, you will increase your expert status, make more sales, and ultimately enjoy your business even more.
Katie Hornor is the founder of Como Blog, a bilingual education site for bloggers and online business owners, and the new Como Blog Connection, where you will find resources, real life connections, and mentoring to spur you on to reach your business dreams. Get info about The Connection and download the Free ebook 50 Powerful Tips for Successful Business Habits at Como Blog.