How To Use Directory To Grow your business Effortlessly

Get More From the Directory

Club, organization, or association sites often list an online membership

directory. Used correctly, this can be a powerful tool to make profitable new

connections. Shared membership does not make it okay to spam others, and

unsolicited sales pitches can lead to revoked privileges or banishment from

the site. Instead, look for real areas of common interest with individuals,

and send a personal e-mail to introduce yourself and set up a phone call.

a become a sales pitch.

Good reasons to connect include the possibility of collaboration or joint venture, the opportunity to share resources or become referral sources for each other, or the chance to become allies in winning new business.

Make your initial e-mail personal, friendly, and brief. Don’t include a lot

of links and don’t try to sell anything. Introduce yourself as a fellow

member, and mention what it was about that person’s profile that intrigued

you. Suggest a way you might be able to help each other, and ask to set up a

phone call.

Use the call to determine how good a fit there is in interest and

personality, and go from there. Because most members completely ignore

the potential connections in the membership database, you’ll probably be

one of a very few who make the effort to get to know members outside the

local area.

Through the membership database, other new opportunities can appear.

For example, by getting to know someone in your organization who lives in

a different state or country, you might be invited to speak at their chapter’s

meeting or submit a blog post, article, or white paper.

Striking up professional friendships across the country or around the world makes it

easy to ask for an insider’s perspective when travel takes you to your acquaintance’s home territory. Buying decisions in a global, Internet economy are no longer based on proximity, and your new contacts may be able to help you save costs or increase productivity by suggesting resources

you hadn’t discovered.

Don’t rule out connecting with other firms that appear to be competitors.

Few companies are really identical in skills or emphasis, and, often,

erstwhile competitors can win more or larger contracts by allying,

leveraging their particular strengths.

If your organization has an annual conference, use the membership

database to help you schedule meetings with high-potential prospects before

you ever leave home. A couple of months before the conference, contact the

people you’re most interested in getting to know to see if they plan to

attend. If so, make arrangements to meet for breakfast, lunch, or a late

cocktail. Instead of wondering whether or not the trip will be productive,

you’ll have a slate of scheduled meetings set up before you go.

Don’t forget that clubs, associations, and organizations often have

affiliate members that are vendors who provide services or offer discounts

to club members.

You can use the site’s social media tools to get to know

these affiliate members as well, and use the same strategies to reach out to

them for networking or in preparation for attending a conference or trade

show.

Vendors can be powerful referral sources as well as valuable partners.

Creating a connection through the social media tools on a membership site

can eliminate the awkwardness of a sales call by first building a relationship

based on shared interests. If the site posts the show program in advance,

check out the speakers, breakout leaders, and key vendors you’d most like

to meet, and see if they’re listed in the membership directory. If so, make a

pre-show connection and arrange your meeting ahead of time.

This is a great way to stand out from the crowd because at the show, you won’t be

making an introduction: you’ll be renewing an existing acquaintance.

You can also use the membership directory to get to know the chapter

leaders in other cities or regions.

This can open doors for speaking engagements, guest blogging, or new networking opportunities. When you

are planning to travel to an area with a chapter of your organization, use the

membership directory to touch base with local members to meet for coffee

or dinner. Join the sub-groups for your organization or club on other social media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, and get to know members in

other areas through the chats and forums. You’ll be amazed how that online

relationship can accelerate the formation of alliances and profitable

opportunities when you finally meet in person.

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