On one of my regular forums, someone recently posted a question asking what others are doing to promote their businesses. There were mentions of advertising, dropping off postcards at local coffee shops, sending out samples, free shipping, sending press releases, and more, but no one mentioned anything related to building relationships with real people.
On a recent list of topics being presented on a women's teleseminar series about business-building, I saw Internet marketing, copywriting, articles and press releases, but nothing about making connections in person.
I like my computer probably more than most people. I prefer e-mail over phone calls to the nth degree. And don't get me wrong: this blog and my article marketing activities have kept me in the top five on Google for "public speaking coach" for the past seven months.
But personal interactions like networking and public speaking add a whole other dimension to your business relationships. There's just no substitute for meeting people in person and building a reputation in your own community.
Online communities are fun and I have met many people online who I now consider friends and valuable colleagues, but when I want to sit down and brainstorm business ideas, I call up my local colleagues and go get coffee or lunch.
I'm not saying I will choose all my service providers based on whether or not I've met them face-to-face, but it adds an extra dimension of familiarity and trust to the relationship.
As a public speaking coach, it's especially important for me to be visible in my own community; meeting people at events and speaking at meetings and conferences gives people a taste of what I'm offering. And people really like buying from their friends and neighbors!
If you want a well-rounded marketing strategy and you want to do everything you can to promote your business as effectively as possible, don't miss out on the face-to-face stuff.