Would you mind sharing your strategies to expand your corporate audiences?
The pandemic negatively impacted my business because in-person group events and training ceased. I pivoted to offer events and training via video conferencing, but nothing can replace the pleasure of having personal interaction with people in the same room.
Now in the post-pandemic recovery period, many of my UK-based clients are still not booking in-person events or training, so I need to look elsewhere for new opportunities. The good news is that business travel has started again and I offer a popular service that many overseas groups want – an experience in an amazing British pub. That happens to be one of the favourite aspects of my work, so I am expanding my network of Destination Management Companies (DMCs) who handle incoming groups, making contacts with travel specialists and conference organisers. I am also offering School of Booze services to large portfolio events companies as a sub-contractor so they can supply them to their clients. This is where LinkedIn is so useful – I can find the right person to contact and ask to connect!
How much of your professional and personal life do you share on LinkedIn? How much does it affect your audience?
I share no private information, just professional news about me or the School of Booze. I know the advice is to post on LinkedIn regularly, but I prefer to be judicious and only post when I have news updates or something useful to share with my network. We are already bombarded with content in all areas of our life, so I try to share information that is a benefit to someone’s business, entertaining, or newsy developments from my industry.
I usually have positive responses and interactions with people who read it.
What are your thoughts on expanding business over digital platforms?
I am a big fan of digital platforms because, during the pandemic, I developed an e-learning platform for the School of Booze, offering downloadable courses in beer, cider, and wine knowledge. The courses are pre-written and recorded, so that means learners can take the courses at a time and in a place that is convenient to them. They are not live, so learners do not have to fit into my schedule. Having a digital offering has been good for my business, and it also means that I can reach customers all over the world.
I recommend digital advertising on a search engine because that means the person searching has actively gone shopping and is ready to spend.
Social media platforms are priceless for marketing and raising awareness, and most of them are free!
What is it like to connect with valuable people? Share with us your best experience over LinkedIn?
I had a really good experience last week where I connected with a senior executive person who likes nothing more than sharing connections and making useful introductions. I also had some useful people to introduce him to, so we did each other a favour.
My best experience on LinkedIn happened during the first pandemic lockdown. It was through me being enlightened. During that time, I did a lot of learning about digital business marketing, and one of the courses I did was about how to maximise the services offered by LinkedIn. It was only then that I realised what a powerful business tool LinkedIn is! I learned that hundreds of potential clients are a few clicks away, and I can access them by a polite request to connect.
What advice would you give to aspiring people to expand their connections?
Be strategic with LinkedIn and do your research on the right people to connect with. When trying to connect, give the person a reason to want to accept the request. Always personalise the request message and explain what you do and why you want to connect. Treat that first attempt at contact as you would if you were meeting in real life in terms of being friendly and engaging. This seems obvious to say, but people do business with people they like, and first impressions count!
Join a chamber of commerce and go to networking events. Always be the ‘what can I do for you’ type of person and be generous with introductions to other people.
Social media is also a really good way of expanding a network – follow the people you want to do business with, and hopefully, they will follow back. Post useful and engaging content and if it is relevant to a particular person, tag them.