Let’s talk about networking! One of the first things we learn when we set up a pet business is the value of having the right contacts and the importance of networking. But it’s not always easy to get started with networking – especially if you’re new in town.
In this article – I will show you how you can use Facebook Groups to find, and connect with the pet business people in your local area or a specific pet related niche.
As I was planning this blogpost I was going through some of the questions you have sent me since I launched this blog – and my eye caught a bunch of questions about networking.
Here’s what some of you asked:
- How to network with other dog businesses?
- How do I reach influencers in the pet business or pet blogging that would like to tell others about my services?
- Tips on networking with others in your local area (like existing dog walkers if you’re a dog walker)
Keep reading and watch the video for the answers to those questions.
Importance of Networking?
It’s great to have a network of peers who can help out when we go on holiday, or bouncing ideas and questions that come up when we’re dealing with clients – and perhaps most importantly, referring new business to us.
Even though we know all of the benefits of pet business networking, it’s not always easy to get started. Some of us are too shy, or embarrassed to go to local networking events, and just the thought of visiting local pet businesses or even phoning them up – is enough to give us palpitations.
So what do you do?
Meet them online first!
Sometimes it can be easier to find and establish that first contact online – and Facebook Groups are a great place to start. Use Facebook groups to introduce yourself to pet businesses in your area or niche, and build a connection online before taking it offline to the real world.
One of the biggest reasons to join Facebook groups is the visibility and networking opportunities they offer. There are groups on Facebook for just about any interest you can imagine – some of them are local, and others are global, so you’re sure to find a fit for your pet business whether you’re a veterinarian, dog groomer or a cat sitter.
What are Facebook Groups?
This is what Facebook says about groups:
“Facebook Groups make it easy to connect with specific sets of people, like family, teammates or coworkers. Groups are dedicated spaces where you can share updates, photos or documents and message other group members. You can also select one of three privacy options for each group you create.”
When you’re a member of a Facebook group, you automatically get notifications when someone posts a new message to the group – and the same thing happens for others when you post something to the group. (Of course, you can change these settings, but many people keep the notifications turned on).
I’m a member of many pet business related groups and on any given day I see more notifications in my newsfeed from groups that I’m active in than from pages that I follow.
One of the downsides of using groups is that you have to join as your personal Facebook profile – and not as your business page. So if you don’t want to use your personal profile, then Facebook groups may not be for you. I’ve set up my personal profile so that it clearly shows a link to My Brand Buddy’s Facebook page when someone hovers their mouse pointer over my name. So it’s all a little like traditional networking – but you use your business pages instead of traditional business cards.
Does it really work?
Do these groups really work? Isn’t it all just a lot of spammy messages? The truth is it depends on the group and the admins of the group. Some groups have strict criterias for joining and they are closed groups, whereas others are open for everyone.
I’m member of a local dog group here in San Francisco and just the other day there was a post from a brand new local dog walker introducing herself and her business who asked about local dog trainers who she could form a business relationship with and hopefully refer business to. Needless to say she got lots of responses within the first hour of posting her question to the group.
How to find the right Facebook Group for My Pet Business?
Here are two ways to search for groups on Facebook. Watch the video for more details on how to search for groups and to get a pro tip on how to make sure the people you are networking with in the groups can find and click through to your business page when they’re looking at your profile.
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- Find new groups To find Facebook’s suggestions, look in your left sidebar and click Groups > Find New Groups. The results are based on your interests and your activity in other groups. You can choose from local groups, groups that your friends are part of, new groups and groups you’re already a member of.
- A more powerful way to search for new groups is to enter a search term that relates to your business, such as ‘pets’, ‘petsitter’, ‘pet care’ the ‘name of your town/area’ into Facebook’s Graph Search and then filter by groups:
Can’t find a local group in your area? Why not start your own group?
If you can’t find a group that’s local to your area or relevant to what you’re trying to achieve, then why not consider starting your own group? As the admin for a group it’s your responsibility to only invite the right type of members, moderating the messages so everyone gets along, get rid of spam, and keeping the group active by posting regularly. It can be a little time consuming, but it could very well be worth it if you can manage to build some strategic relationships along the way.
Have you had success with Facebook networking? What’s your best tip?
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