The Power of Networking and Virtual Relationships

Networking — the act of actually going out an meeting people face-to-face — is simply one of the most powerful marketing tools any person or organization can use. However, there is one issue with this tool: it’s not scalable.

A colleague and friend of mine runs his own business. This margins are thin and he has little to no help (i.e., employees). Thus, it’s hard for him to both run his business and look for new business at the same time. After talking through his specific situation, we were able to find a great solution for him: email marketing.

Email marketing, while never able to replace the face-to-face networking, can be a great supplement. It’s a great tool to help build virtual relationships with people. What’s a virtual relationship?

A virtual relationship is something that many of us have with Hollywood celebrities (or have had at some point in our lives). We see their image on the screen (movie or TV) and project feelings and situations about the person that are simply not there: we are engaging with a two dimensional image that is not human — but we perceive the image as a real person. Then, we we meet our favorite star at a local restaurant or event, we call them out by their first name and feel as though we already know them.

The star, of course, doesn’t know who we are, but because our celebrity as had some training and has likely experienced this before, reacts as though he or she does know you … which build their brand.

Email marketing works in much the same way. It is a way for people to see your ideas interact with you on some level, and when done well, can feel personal and sincere. For my colleague, email marketing will serve as an augmentation to his normal networking efforts. It can replace several simple meetings with his existing clients and serve as additional touch points for prospects he just met. All the while, he can continue to build his brand, maintain the same personal service he’s known for, and scale his business to the point where he can hire new help.