Fifteen ideas to help you promote your business during lockdown — and most of them are free.

As we head into lockdown, again, it is easy to worry, and to think that your business has to stop, or slow down. But there is a load of stuff we can do, not just in terms of our networking, but to continue to promote our business, perhaps in ways we haven’t thought of before.

In fact, it is possible that lockdown even gives us an opportunity to think about and try different ways of building our network and our business, which wouldn’t have been so relevant before.

Here are my thoughts, and it is more of a brain dump, of what any of us could be doing.

This leads to a couple of obvious questions, which please feel free to answer in the comments.

Firstly, what else can you think of? What have I missed from the list?

And secondly, what’s stopping you doing any of this?

In no particular order:

1. Start connecting with your audience on LinkedIn. Set aside a few minutes every day, use LinkedIn’s excellent search tool to look for people who may be interested in what you do, and connect. I take time every week to look at who is using the hashtag #networking, then I go and join in their conversation. Really simple, I read what they have posted and, if I feel I have value to offer, I go and reply. This allows me to give value to them, and at the same time brings me visibility both to them, and to anyone else who reads the post. Inevitably it leads to new connections who, let’s remember, I am connected with because they are interested in #networking.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile. You’ve probably got a bit of extra time that you won’t be spending in the car. Invest some of that time into making sure your LI profile truly reflects what you offer.

3. Be interested in your existing network. Have you checked in on what your connections have posted recently? If not go and do so and where relevant, Like or Comment or Share, or a combination of all three. Remember to be interested rather than try to be interesting. Your connections will thank you for it, plus they’ll be reminded that you exist.

4. Get along to a networking event you’ve not been to before. You can network ANYWHERE in the world now that everyone is running their events online. Do you want your business to be regional, national or international, but have never been able to travel? Well right now you can, and actually will be able to forever now. Or if you want a local market, you can now visit networking events locally you’ve never been to before. Go and meet some new people and build your network. Google is your friend for finding these events, or use your existing contacts and ask them where they go and what works for them.

5. Speak at a networking event. Most networking events give their members or regular attendees the opportunity to speak, either to describe their business in a bit more detail or to give some helpful knowledge or share some expertise which will be useful to the others in the room. Grab the opportunity. You’re going to be in the comfort or safety of your own home and able to speak from behind a screen. Right now is the safest and easiest opportunity you have ever had to have your voice heard, so take it.

6. Learn how to use that social media channel you know you should be using. Everyone should do their own social media so if you’ve been held back before by not knowing how to use Facebook or Instagram or TikTok or whatever it happens to be for you, invest in one of the many excellent training courses and learn, or even go on YouTube and start finding tutorials there, there are millions. And if you don’t know which social media platforms are the right ones for you, go and research that, there will be plenty of material out there to advise you. There could be a whole new audience just waiting to hear from you.

7. Write articles, share your knowledge and expertise. There are people who are really keen to learn what you already know. If you can write, do so and educate people in something you know about, a bit like what I’m doing here. Write it, then publish it on your own website, or Facebook or LinkedIn or Medium or anywhere else you can think of. Then do it again. All of us in business have knowledge we can share and every article we write and publish helps people to decide whether they Know, Like and Trust us. Share your knowledge freely, because if you aren’t, someone else who does what you do is.

8. Record a video, share your knowledge and your personality. Hold your ‘phone in front of your face, or balance it on something, press record and start speaking. The means of recording and sharing video content is now literally in our hands, so use it. If you’re uncomfortable doing videos, I am too, and it is worth getting over. So many times now I’ve been told by people who I’m meeting for the first time that they “felt like they already knew you (me)”. Some of those people have even hired me before they had actually met me in real life. You have the means on your ‘phone to record, edit and publish a video. If your content is good it will win out and you can learn or outsource the editing as you go. But first, just record and publish, nobody minds the bit at the end where you’re working out how to turn it off.

9. Record a podcast, if you have a face or voice for radio. If you want to overcomplicate things, invest in a load of kit and build yourself a home studio. If you just want to get on with it, download Anchor (it’s what I use), follow the instructions and record your first podcast on your ‘phone right there and then. There is literally nothing stopping you from doing it, and once you start, you can work out whether your podcast is popular enough or worthwhile enough to invest in some kit. But at first, just record it and share it everywhere. Tools like Anchor make it super easy to do so. PS, I have a podcast which you can find here — The Networking Retreat Audio Show.

10. Get organised, record your network and contacts in a CRM. I don’t really care what system you use, but get a system. I prefer to use Capsule CRM and I record EVERYTHING in there, in the hope that I forget nothing. Once I’ve recorded everything I can then reflect and audit regularly and remind myself whether there are any opportunities I should follow up on, or if there is anything I have promised to do which I need to get on with.

11. Email your contacts. If you have been asking permission to Email people, then do so, either individually or in bulk. If you’ve taken my advice above and written an article or recorded a video or a podcast, then Email the people who might be interested and tell them about it! For mailing to my list I use MailChimp and there are plenty of options out there for Emailing as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. MailChimp has a free version to get anyone started.

12. Pick up the ‘phone to your contacts! Networking contacts, ex clients, people who were going to go ahead and didn’t, suppliers, anyone else you can think of. Actually speaking to people is hugely undervalued. Emailing and messaging just doesn’t have the same impact. If you have something to sell which you genuinely believe will be of value to the person whose number you have, then pick up the bloody ‘phone and tell them so. The worst that can happen is that they won’t answer, or they might not be interested. But every big opportunity starts with a little conversation and so many times people don’t even start the conversation. Talk, try it, it is powerful.

13. Notice who is paying attention to you and talk to them too. Who has been liking everything you do on LinkedIn? Or turning up every time you speak at a networking event. Or has mentioned a couple of times that they might be interested in what you do. Pick up the ‘phone and take the conversation to the next level. Remember always that all of our marketing is a gateway to an actual conversation with someone. So take the opportunity and get the conversation either on the ‘phone or Zoom. When I started work in a shoe sho in 1983 we were taught to spot buying signals. Those signals are still there in the virtual world so first learn to spot them and second learn to act on them.

14. Try a marketing tactic you’ve not used before. What haven’t you tried? Exhibiting at a virtual conference? Direct mail? Direct sales? Local advertising? Facebook advertising? LinkedIn advertising? What have you been thinking of doing but written off? Go get some advice now and try it, in a measured and affordable way. And if the advice is that it isn’t affordable for you right now, then at least now you know and can focus on something else. But you might just stumble on something which absolutely works for your business, and you’ll never know unless you try.

15. What have you done differently in lockdown — and does your local press know? Has your business pivoted? Are you working from home now where you had an office before? Have you worked out how to run your business and homeschool? Or have you turned your previous side hustle into a full time business because of lockdown? Or have you been able to run your business alongside assisting the local community? Your local newspaper, or radio station might be really interested in what you’re doing, because they know their readers or listeners are looking for good news stories right now, and stories of how people are positively approaching the current situation. Buy a copy of your local paper, or go on their website and work out who the business editor is, or who has responsibility for business stories. Then pick up the ‘phone or Email them and tell them about you and ask if they’d be interested. You may have to do the work of writing the piece and taking the photos, but it may result it some worthwhile and free publicity. And remember if you do get featured anywhere, to share it all over your social media too.

There’s fifteen ideas to get you going. The real opportunity, as I’ve mentioned many times before, is that most people won’t bother. So be the one who does. Be the business whose visibility goes up, when everyone else is staying quiet. Be the business who turns the volume up during the winter, whilst everyone else waits for the sun to come out again.

There is so much that all of us could be doing, that the only real question is ‘Why not?”. If you can answer “Why not?” honestly, and you have some real solid reasons, for example your business is absolutely flourishing and you don’t need to right now, then fair play and I am thrilled you got there. But if not, do it, jfdi as I have been told many times in my career.

At the very least, at the very very least, you are doing something positive for your business which feels a load better than hiding and stressing about it, it really does.

And remember, that everyone’s life and timeline is busy these days. So if someone takes the time to read your content or social media output or Email or lumpy mail, or listens to your podcast or watches your video, that is hugely flattering, and make sure to thank them.

So thank you, I know you’re busy too, and I appreciate it. I hope this was useful.

Keynote Speaker. Author of Business Networking for Dummies, Instant Networking & Win The Room. Trainer. Mentor.

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