Friday, March 21, 2008

Virtual Networking, Working Virtually

Happy Easter, everyone. Since it's technically a holiday, we shouldn't be working, right? But that's the beauty of virtual networking. It works for you even when you're not.

Today I received an email from a potential client in New York who stumbled into an existing client, Christi Smith from PFF Entertainment, makers of the board games Pervartistry and Sexy Slang, at a networking function. This potential client mentioned to Christi that she was looking to produce a website and was soliciting referrals. Christi graciously recommended Red Dream Studios, afterwhich, the client emailed us for a quote immediately.

I find this fascinating:

  • Most small companies would not be in a position to take a day trip across the contient just to meet with a potential client who has a modest budget to dedicate to their website.

  • Most small companies would not be in a position to attend a well-todo networking function unless they were directly invited, particularly if their industry of work is already represented within the networking group.

  • Because of our previous relationship, and ultimately, Christi's customer satisfaction, she acted as a virtual salesperson (or champion) on the behalf of Red Dream Studios.

  • Christi "sold" our services at absolutely no cost to Red Dream Studios.

  • Christi was able to meet dozens of people, and in an unsolicited manner, act as spokesperson for Red Dream Studios, in a situation where we would never have been able to directly interact with all these potential clients.

So all this to say is that virtual networking works for you virtually all the time, when you least expect it to do so. And this proves that customer satisfaction is among the highest priorities in the entrepreneurial handbook.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gabbing 'bout Social Media Marketing

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Ernesta Rossi, partner with Advantis Communications Inc., a marketing and PR company based in Markham, Ontario. We connected because I had answered a question of hers on the social networking site, LinkedIn, of which I've been a member for several years now -- and have only recently discovered a hidden networking power behind it, the Answers feature.

LinkedIn has typically been a resource for executives and business people to connect and network. For example, I recently have been connecting to former colleagues in order to keep them updated on my goings-on, particularly the fact that I'm now running my company, Red Dream Studios as a full-time venture.

Ernesta, and her company, are conducting a presentation this week on whether or not companies were using social media marketing tools to advance their businesses. She spotted the answer to a question that was posed to over 1 million LinkedIn professionals, to which I answered the following:

"As a small company, with a limited/non-existant budget for traditional, mainstream advertising, my company, Red Dream Studios, is using social media marketing as one of its primary ways of presenting its services, portfolio, messaging, and securing new clients. We've been relying principaly on LinkedIn and Facebook (and of course our own blog).

While LinkedIn provides us with exposure to the executives, Facebook provides a means of uploading and displaying our portfolio within a dedicated company group to which many of our contacts have willingly joined. As a result of our continued perserverance and belief in social marketing (and quite frankly, one of the best "free" forms of networking available to us), we've managed to connect with people that helped us secure projects with clients we would not have normally had the opportunity to work for -- case in point, SoftImage and Bell Canada.

Moreover, we've encouraged many of our clients (who are they themselves entrepreneurs) to use social marketing for their businesses. Since many of the media they expose on these sites has been created by us, we've been able to begin a sort of viral networking, exposing our works to way beyond traffic that visits our portfolio website, or to our clients directly. So in effect, our clients become virtual sales champions for our company and has resulted in propogated business."
Ernesta decided to contact me directly and we had a wonderful chat. During her presentation, she will be repeating much of what I've told her and will of course be referencing Red Dream Studios by name (another example of virtual networking). And what's even more exciting is that while we were talking, she happened to be perusing the Red Dream Studios website and based on our services, considered using us as one of her suppliers.

A very odd coincidence, but once again, a prime example of how social media marketing can result in connections with new clients and projects without direct solicitation or mainstream advertising.