12 months ago I moved from Denver to Indianapolis. Picking up shop and moving my business across country to start a new office in a new city can be fairly—or need I say—downright stressful.
Many questions come up: Will we make it? How will we generate leads? How will we stay afloat? These uncertainties, among many other, kept me up nights.
I soon discovered the business environment into which I had immersed myself was almost 180 degrees different from that I had left.
Denver is a highly transient town. People are always moving in and out. Four out of 10 new Colorado residents came from elsewhere in the U.S. (Source: Denver Post). In Denver, everyone stays in their bubble and relies heavily on Google to find the products and services they need.
In Indy, growth is stagnant if not decreasing (Source: World Population Review). You have generations of family roots and a layer of networking where business is strictly done by word-of-mouth and referrals. In this environment, it’s all about who you know. If you need something, you ask someone rather than going to Google to find it yourself. It’s no wonder that a company like Angie’s List—a company based on word-of-mouth reviews—was founded in Indianapolis.
My concerns were validated at a local networking event when a VP of a large metals company specifically stated to me: “I would never go to the internet to search for something you do” (i.e. inbound marketing and branding services).
Even more interesting, our keywords and rankings in Denver are the same as they are in Indy with one big difference: the search volume is almost 10x higher in Denver!
Determined not to let this whole thing get me rattled, I got busy thinking on how to solve the problem. I had to start my business all over again, this time by word-of-mouth.
If you’re moving your business or starting an office in a new city, here are 8 tips to keep in mind.
1. Figure out the business climate
I looked into the business climate in Indianapolis and everything looked great. Low unemployment, a fair amount of startups, diverse industries, a thriving healthcare and medical device sector and supporting services sector. I looked at my competitors, who, compared to Denver, were definitely more savvy— but felt I could still carve out a niche.
What I failed to do is contact everyone I knew in Denver to ask who they knew in Indianapolis. This could have given me insight into how to best approach a strong referral market. Instead, I approached it by analyzing search engine rankings.
2. Download Eventbright now
Eventbright is a networking app that gives you all the latest networking events in a particular geographic area. Search for your type of business and you’ll find a host of events to attend in order to build your personal network. Be committed to attending a new event every other week for the next 6 months. Another great resource is Networking After Work.
3. Set goals and make friends
For every network event you attend, set a goal that you wish to achieve. It can be: Talk to 10 people; get 5 business cards; make 5 connections on LinkedIn, etc. Have a goal going in. Don’t flake out until you’ve achieved it. Meeting people can be challenging, especially if you have introverted tendencies (like myself). Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Having trouble breaking the ice? Here are some opening phrases to start out with.
- Hi, I’m_____.
- What brings you here tonight?
- What kind of business is______?
For some ideas, take a look at HubSpot’s Inbound 2014 Networking Page.
These are all pretty basic, but they get the conversation started. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be about business at all. At a recent event, I met a sales rep and we talked about our college fraternities and our mutual love of running. Remember everyone is there to accomplish the same thing – build their network and make friends—which brings me to my next point.
4. Perfect your elevator pitch
At a networking event, be prepared to give your elevator pitch in less than 30 seconds. Figure out what makes your services/products unique. Have in mind what your ideal customer looks like and how to talk to them. Make it interesting and intriguing.
5. Meet with anyone and everyone, send a good follow up
Once you make those connections and exchange business cards—make sure to follow up. Be willing to meet with anyone for a beer, coffee or have lunch. You don’t know where it may lead—you really have nothing to loose. If the person you’re meeting with can’t afford you or isn’t a good fit for your services, they may know someone who could be. Make sure to send a follow up email and connect on LinkedIn.
6. Connect with people in your industry
Attend events hosted by the industry leaders in your area. Even though you offer the same services, their ideal client may be much different than yours, and there might be opportunities for business referrals. Make that known and make some friends. Prove to them you’re a great company to refer too and visa versa.
7. Google maps
Local search is crucial as you’ll want to make sure your business shows up on searches just in case someone does Google you. Make an effort to go to Google/places and register your new business address.
8. Shamelessly ask
Again, you really have nothing to loose, so go ahead and ask your colleagues, clients, friends and peers if they know anyone they could refer you to. A lot of times they would be more than happy to help you out. I sent an email to a client who is a physician from the area and he sent me back 5 names and introduced me over email. In most cases, people will go out of their way to help you. Just remember to pass it forward when someone reaches out for your help.
In conclusion, moving to a new town and starting a new personal network takes work. Figure out before hand what you’re dealing with, download the Eventbright app, sign up for events and set a goal to keep you in the game. Say yes to every meeting, connect with people in your industry, get your listing on Google places and don’t be afraid to ask—even shamelessly in some cases. By following these 8 key points, you’ll be off to building your network in no time.
For another great article on this topic: How to build a network from scratch.
Are you new or starting a business in the Denver or Indianapolis area? Contact us to learn how we can get your business started on the right path to success.
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By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.