If success for you means hitting certain revenue or employment goals, or if you take inspiration from those with rapid and sustained growth, I’d like to introduce you to Zach Benson, founder of Assistagram, a personal Instagram management agency (and former participant on the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance ).
Seeing a shift from traditional advertising and marketing to social media marketing, Benson decided to jump in.
However ironically, instead of spending money on marketing his own services, Benson thought of ways to help those around him by offering his services at a huge discount. He did this simply as a way to build quality relationships and testimonials, and as a result, let the word-of-mouth spread.
In this interview, Benson shares his thoughts on how to capitalize on your network:
1. Express a genuine interest in everyone
“Everyone has value and worth to offer,” shares Benson. “ I always start conversations with anyone, anywhere, because you never know whom you’ll meet. And remember, it’s not always that person, but whom that person knows that could lead to a big opportunity. I am always giving people compliments, encouragement, and taking interest in random people’s lives. In turn, this is how I’ve met a lot of new friends and business partners. These connections helped expand my network and I found a creative way to stay in touch with all of them, and my business grew.”
2. Focus locally
You can grow in whichever market you’re planted. Benson says, “I grew up in Iowa and have lived there pretty much my whole life. So, I reached out to my contacts who knew newspaper editors and news hosts to write about me and feature my story. I knew that I could leverage this local press to get national press in the future, as well as get attention from local potential customers.” Whether press or the gatekeepers to the audience you’re targeting, it’s always wise to leverage those relationships first.
3. Connect with influencers
The term “influencer” is thrown around a lot, which might be confusing. Benson explains, “I connected with influencers with big businesses and did work for them for free, or almost free, when I was starting out. I’d ask trusted people in my network to make introductions where appropriate. I’ve learned that successful people are super-smart with their money. I realized, therefore, that if I show them that I respect them and can help solve one of their problems, or help them with something they are really focusing on, and help them smash their goals, then the referrals come naturally. They then become a spokesperson for my services.” It’s always more powerful to have someone else sing your praises.
4. Grow your network by traveling
It may seem counterintuitive to travel when you’re in growth mode, However, Benson says, “I decided to travel often because I love it and because of the opportunities to expand my network. I choose a country, find a big business/tech/entrepreneur event going on, and attend. Most of the time, I pitch myself to speak, or get in as media because I have a large Instagram network. Then, I interview people in attendance and find a creative way to stay in touch with them. I also network with hotel staff and guests when I travel. It’s become a huge part of my success.”