People often ask how I advertise my branding and marketing consultancy business. I honestly don’t. Not at all. Not once have I considered using Facebook advertisements or booking a slot in a magazine. My clients have been referrals or those who get to know me through my business columns.
Word of mouth recommendations always work well for a business, especially in the UAE where people value their peers’ suggestions. This is where networking comes in handy and for me, my women’s network is particularly important. I work with many high-end luxury clients, all thanks to my female contacts that have recommended my work.
Let me share an example of how having the right network comes in handy. A high-end fashion retailer once asked me to execute an evening event. I invited 30 women from my network, introducing the brand’s latest trends to them during the event. Over dinner, my client said: “Manar, I expected most of the attendees to be fashion bloggers, not women who excelled in law, interior design or government entities.” The client was pleased. I had delivered something very different to what she was expecting. To her the invitees were powerful because of their own connections; whether they were lawyers or architects, they in turn helped to introduce the brand to another group of people – business groups, women in government posts and so on – my client had not anticipated.
With this in mind, here are four lessons you can learn from my network of high-achieving women:
They have amazing personal brands
In my network, we have the sharp lawyer, the life coach, the fashionable interior designer and the athletic banker. When it comes to me, I am the positive branding/marketing guru. This is how we refer to each other. So why is having a personal brand important? Because if you are looking to meet potential clients, having a unique trait is key to being at the top of someone’s mind. That is how people remember women from my network. They ask me how my “fashionable interior designer friend” is, or inquire about “the sharp lawyer” who knows the ins and outs of every legal case.
They do not miss a lunch or dinner date opportunity
When it comes to time, these women do not have much of it, but they know that working through lunch or watching a sitcom at home instead of networking is not only a career killer but could result in missed opportunities. Think about it, if you are working in an office how can you build relationships with your co-workers or those who work in your corporate complex if you spend all of your time glued to your computer screen? Networking and socialising over meals and at events is a major door opener. Leave that screen for an hour. Network.
They are there for each other
Whether it’s a dinner event, a business talk or a baby shower, my group of women is always there to support one another. By showing interest in the network’s activities, whether business or personal, it helps to build on these relationships and form the foundations of a strong network.
They refer their friends when an opportunity arises
If someone is looking for a lawyer, they will refer X or if someone is remodelling their house, they would not hesitate to share the details of our interior designer friend. You see this happening at dinner parties; a woman will take out her phone and show the potential client photos of the designer’s projects on social media. Helping to connect your network is extremely valuable and will also make you memorable. Connect one person to a client and they will most likely refer you to someone in the future.
By genuinely being interested in building relationships with others and focusing more on the giving rather than receiving, you will soon find that you have a strong, influential network. If my friends can do it, then so can you. Get out there and mingle.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.
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