Article originally posted in Medium on August 7, 2018.
When you are a new business owner or young professional, there is nothing more important than making your brand known by others.
If no one knows your brand exists, it only makes it harder to find clients or get hired. The only way to avoid being “unknown,” is by putting yourself out there — not only online, but in person as well.
Let me stress this: In today’s world, social media presence is extremely important. However, spreading your brand in person is just as important.
Honestly, an in-person conversation at a coffee shop surmounts any amount of likes, follows or comments on social media because of its simple result: establishing a real and lasting relationship.
There is nothing that compares to being able to sit in front of someone you just met and being able to ask about who they are and then watch their eyes light up as they begin discussing their deepest passions. That is something that cannot be done on social media, which is why I urge people to never forget the power of organically growing your brand in person.
A tip about creating relationships on social media:
Growing your social media is important. However, businesses are about creating relationships, not just followers.
Whether you have a large or small following, little by little, challenge yourself to find different ways to connect with your followers on a deeper level than just liking each other’s pictures. Have a conversation, find something in common, find a way to support one another, 0r (if possible) find a way to meet or talk (like actually speak) on the phone.
Over time, not only will your followers grow, but your relationships as well.
When I started my business in 2015, I was just a college student with a camera in a city full of many other creatives and photographers. Other than my family and friends who served as my “day one fans” on social media, I barely had a following.
I didn’t want to follow a bunch of random accounts in the hope they would follow me back, or — even worse — I didn’t want to buy followers, because I wanted people to not only know about my brand but also have a relationship with the person behind it.
So, I decided to promote in-person.
I started off by knocking on doors holding a bag full of flyers. Some slammed the door in my face — that tends to happen sometimes in life. However, others agreed to take a flyer, talk for a moment or find ways to help each other with business.
Later, I attended endless amounts of networking events that ranged from morning coffee mixers to late-night events. After exchanging business cards, I would send an email from each of the cards I received, touching upon a conversation shared or the simple pleasure it was to meet them.
Over time, the many people I met and spoke with became more than just a follower on social media, they became friends, business partners, clients (sometimes I was the client), and/or mentors.
However, overall, the way I have made most of my connections is through talking to strangers. Whether its a person in front of you in line, joining you on the awkward elevator ride or sitting next to you at a coffee shop, make the effort to simply say “hello.” Doing so can lead to endless opportunities and relationships.
Here are five ways you can take the first steps to grow your brand in-person:
1. Say “hi” to strangers
2. Make flyers and business cards and always have them on you
3. Go to networking events
4. Grab a cup of coffee with people you meet
5. Stay in touch with your new and old contacts
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions, want to meet or share how promoting your brand in-person has gone.