On Monday, I wrote my first blog post in 3 years. It took me 3 paragraphs to get to the point of the post. The point: I'm launching a new concept called, "Inbound Networking".
So, what is Inbound Networking? It is a cross between referral networking and inbound marketing. "What the hell is that?", you say?
First, you need to understand what these two things are:
- Referral Networking is a concept pioneered by Business Networking International (BNI) and it's founder, Ivan Misner. Years ago, I was a member of a chapter of BNI, the Golden Triangle. My fellow members grew to trust me and they identified prospects who I could help. Then, they made the introductions. I acquired new clients as a direct result of the referrals I received from my fellow members. I helped my fellow members in the same way they helped me. You can read more about my experiences with business networking on my old about me page.
- Inbound marketing is a concept that we've pioneered at HubSpot. It's the process of attracting traffic to your website, converting traffic to leads, converting leads to sales and continuously analyzing results from each step in order to improve results. Here's a great primer on Inbound Marketing and you can pick up the best selling Inbound Marketing book at Amazon. Here are a bunch of case studies about how inbound marketing helps businesses grow.
For small businesses, both of these ways of growing a business require a significant amount of effort. With inbound marketing, you must create lots of remarkable content. With business networking, you must develop trusting relationships with lots of people who may or may not ever refer you qualfiied business. Both are hard. Both require committment. Both take time to make an impact on a business's topline.
Here's how Inbound Networking will work:
- Members will first establish trusted referral sources in their industry or geography by joining an established 'inbound networking group'.
- They'll create and publish educational content and offers that demonstrates their expertise and invite prospects to engage with them.
- They'll tap their network of businesses to share their content with their followers, fans, subscribers and customers. This 'content sharing' will drive traffic to their content and capture leads in the process. Members will work together to build an ever-growing audience of followers, fans and customers by reciprocating.
- In the process, groups and members will build authority and traffic from search engines, a bigger following on social media, a larger blog subscribership and a bigger opt-in email list.
- Members and groups will improve results over time by continuously analyzing and learning what content, offers and marketing techniques work for each member.
This looks like more work, right? So, why should someone combine them? While creating content and building trusted relationships with referral sources will still require hard work, commitment and time, combining the two will do a few things. Inbound Networking will:
- Reduce the time it takes to generate qualified leads compared to doing business networking and inbound marketing alone.
- Instantly create a larger audience for each member's content.
- Lead generation and client acquisition results will accelerate over time as inbound networking groups grow and build an online audience and online marketing assets.
- Effort creating content and building trusted relationships will produce ongoing results well into the future.
What do you think? Anyone already doing something like this?