Networking isn’t a strategy that comes to mind when building a marketing plan or crafting an SEO campaign. In fact, marketers don’t usually think of their professional networks as marketing assets. It’s time to change that — especially when you’ve got strong branding or a brand mission as a force multiplier for your efforts. For purpose-driven ecommerce brands, building a network of like-minded contacts will help you build partnerships, spread the word about your brand’s mission and increase organic traffic.
During a recent Fire&Spark Fireside Chat, we sat down with Kathryn Rose, founder and CEO of wiseHer. Kathryn emphasized the impact of building a network had on her brand building efforts.
Kathryn’s brand, wiseHer, was built from her network to provide support and resources for other women entrepreneurs. Kathryn worked hard to grow this network, collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to create a community for women in business who want to get “unstuck.”
Building Relationships with Like-Minded Brands
Click here to watch the full Fire&Spark Fireside Chat
To generate effective partnerships through networking you need to focus on three important elements: authenticity, communication, and collaboration.
It All Starts with Authenticity
To establish a strong mutually beneficial partnership with other brands, you need to have a reason to connect. For many of the brands we work with at Fire&Spark, that reason is their purpose or mission. Think about it as what your business stands for. This mission reflects the type of change you want to see in the world, your industry, or your workplace.
Brands and individuals that make the best partners will be those with authentic interest in your mission, and vice versa. They will want to see you succeed and do what they can to share your mission with their own network and audience.
In our conversation with Kathryn Rose, she stated that her authentic interest in many brands was what differentiated her from others meaning to build relationships for personal advancement. According to Rose, when establishing a relationship with other brands she makes it clear that she wants to “supplement and complement what [brands] are offering to [their] community” and not take away from what they are already doing.
Of course, if you want your brand to successfully complement another, and vice-versa, you will need to share the same values and support one another’s mission. A partnership with this as its foundation will be long-lasting and successful.
Set Expectations Before Collaboration for Productive Partnerships
Once you’ve established a relationship with other brands, it is important that you communicate with one another and set expectations before collaborating.
Set up a meeting with the other organization to discuss how you can work together and help one another. Consider asking these questions:
- What are your expectations?
- What are your goals/metrics?
- How can the partner brand fulfill your goals? How can they help you?
- How will you fulfill the partner brand’s goals? How can you help them?
Setting and then documenting these expectations, via a simplified written agreement, keeps you and the other brand accountable throughout your relationship. And, as Rose says, having this conversation early will leave less room for disappointment later.
Keys to Mutually Beneficial Collaboration
Once you have communicated with the other brand regarding your expectations, you can then start collaborating. One of the most significant contributions that can come out of a business partnership is content; there are various ways you can share or exchange content with other organizations, and vice-versa:
- Offer expertise for webinars or panels
- Share social media posts that promote the other brand
- Guest write articles for the other brand
Case Study: Using Your Network to Boost Your Brand
WiseHer is an online consulting agency that specializes in pairing solo- or women entrepreneurs to mentors, executives, and other experts to help them grow their business or career. They also offer a variety of resources that provide practical, tactical advice for those just getting started with their brand. Many of these experts and resources are available thanks to the multitude of organizations wiseHer collaborates with.
WiseHer will often work with experts within its network to create content for like-minded businesses. For example, CEO, Kathryn Rose, mentions that some of their brand’s partners will often reach out and ask if any WiseHer network experts would be interested in producing an article for their site. In exchange, the individual who writes the article can add a byline and information for contacting them through the wiseHer platform.
On the other end, wiseHer may ask experts from other organizations to be guest writers for their site. This type of “content swap” is an easy way for the brand to leverage backlinks and bring more attention to the business.
The success of wiseHer has been built largely on this network. This graph shows the huge increase in referring domains, followed by a graph that shows increased authority over that same time. Authority is an important metric Google uses to determine rankings for keywords. Learn more here.
Referring Domains x Time for wiseher.com
Domain Authority x Time for wiseher.com
As you can see, the content partnerships and referring domains (think backlinks) wiseHer has been able to accumulate, and the domain authority for the website. As results of these increases, wiseHer also saw an increase in organic traffic.
Organic Traffic x Time for wiseher.com
SEO is a winner takes all game. If you really want to win in competitive markets, you need to build your authority. One way you can do this is by establishing relationships that convey trust and expertise, one of the pillars of Authority First SEO. This can be done by leveraging your network and forming partnerships with like-minded brands and individuals.
To learn more about leveraging your network and forming business relationships that will grow your brand online, check out the full Fireside Chat with Kathryn Rose.