By Andrea H. Reay
Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce
When my father was the owner of a small independent pharmacy he and I (when I was old enough) spent a large part of our time detailing, networking and marketing in person. We would schedule meetings with Doctors and clinic managers, passing out business cards and information on why they should refer patients to our pharmacy. He would attend Chamber events, belonged to several professional organizations, and worked hard to build personal relationships to grow the business. We didn’t have a website, buy TV spots or billboards, and there were no online reviews for us to respond to. A majority of patients still brought hand written prescriptions into the store to be filled.
Over the last 10-15 years small businesses have been adapting to a digital marketplace. Even if your business is not e-commerce related, you still engage with your customers and clients online. Through this marketing shift, many business owners have begun to believe that in-person networking is obsolete. However, evidence shows that today in our digital age, in-person marketing and networking is more effective than ever. If your company has stopped investing in business to business networking, you are missing out on the most effective marketing strategy there is.
In a study released by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 75% of respondents said that the most effective B2B marketing strategy is in-person networking events, a 69% increase from the previous year. Analysis of this data confirms what we as Chamber professionals already knew anecdotally – that in-person relationship building is still important, no matter how much time we spend online.
Why is in-person marketing and networking still the most valuable? First, there is no substitute for understanding tone and intent, than a personal meeting. How often are intentions misunderstood over email? Body language, facial expressions and tone of voice help us form opinions and understand each other. Second, relationships are built on trust. It’s harder to trust a person or a company you’ve never met. Finally, many career opportunities come from being recommended by people they already know. Expanding your personal professional network is a smart investment in your future and the future of your business. A survey conducted by The Adler Group found that 46% of active candidates and 49% of passive candidates found employment through networking. Additionally, a study conducted by Banque de France and the University of Toulouse found that half of all jobs in the United States are filled through personal contacts.
We’ve always known the importance on networking for many different business goals. That is why your chamber hosts several events every month around our region. These events are held at different times and days of the month to help facilitate different schedules and are an amazing resource to make life-long connections and help you achieve your goals.
Please visit our website for a complete list of all of our opportunities to help you and your business connect, grow and succeed. Our next upcoming opportunity is our August membership Luncheon and will be August 9th at SeaTac Airport and will feature a key note delivered by Director of Airport Operations, Lance Lyttle. More information on this upcoming event, and all our events can be found here http://www.seattlesouthsidechamber.com/events/calendar/  or give us a call at our office and we will be happy to connect you.
Andrea H. Reay is the President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce – “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila since 1988. For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com .
- CMI and MarketingProfs Survey (pg 16): http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2016_B2B_Report_Final.pdf 
- Lou Adler Article, Adler Group: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler 
- Banque de France and University of Toulouse Study: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2166577