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Connecting your Online and Offline Networking Strategies

Today's businesses have a wider range of networking and marketing tools and opportunities at their disposal. In much earlier times, consumers could only learn about new brands or new products and services from conventional media sources: newspapers, magazines, radio, TV commercials, and printed advertisements like posters and billboards.

On top of these, they could also visit the brand's physical store, or any other brick-and-mortar establishment that carries their products, to actually talk to their sales representatives and find out more about (or finally experience) the offering in question.

Today, however, organisations have the power of digital marketing strategies at their fingertips. Companies can hardly operate today without an official website or blog where their target market can learn more about them online. And there are several social media and file sharing platforms that they can utilise — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and more — to build relationships and cultivate conversations with their consumers, to maintain engagement and encourage conversions.

Putting them together

While most companies would have separate teams taking care of their offline and online networking strategies, there's no doubt that combining the two would be especially effective in helping businesses achieve their desired marketing results. All it takes is a little creativity to be able to merge digital and real-life networking techniques.

Here are some ideas you can try:

Promote your online assets and social media accounts on your offline marketing materials.

A neighbourhood bakery and cafe, for example, can hang posters or hand out fliers within the store that display its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest information.

A clothing store, on the other hand, could enhance their loyal in-store patrons' shopping experience by letting them view the company’s Instagram feed or Facebook statuses on a tablet PC while they wait in line.

And a restaurant can reward their takeaway customers with the promise of discounts or freebies on their next purchase if they follow their social media accounts and retrieve a promo code.

Conversely, you can also use your online marketing avenues to draw more people toward real-life experiences of your brand.

You can post video tutorials on your blog demonstrating ways to use your products, with a message inviting viewers to visit your physical store for a free sample or consultation with an expert.

Why not try holding a raffle on your Facebook or Instagram profiles? Invite people to repost a photo of your product or logo, share it to a number of their friends, and the random winner gets a free dinner in your restaurant, a new product, a day in the spa, or any other freebie relevant to your brand.

Of course, there's the tactic of announcing a one-time event for the month only on your social media account, on the same day of the show, concert, or launch. You can build anticipation for your next event, motivating Web users to regularly check your profiles for the next surprise announcement.

A final tip - Get in touch with people who can help strengthen both your offline and online marketing pull. Movers and shakers in your industry will have the public's trust already, and having these people on your side — offering their insights on your blog, joining you in a podcast, or appearing in an interview with you on national TV — can encourage people to take a closer look at your company. Cross-promote these collaborations in your online and traditional media channels for a stronger networking effect. 

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