| Feb 27, 2024 | | 8 min read

Build connections with these strategies for effective agency networking


Networking for agencies is akin to networking for individual professionals: it involves taking action to foster connections with prospective clients, partners, and industry peers to expand your client base, find opportunities to collaborate, exchange ideas, and stay active in your niche.

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Without making networking part of their marketing strategy, agencies can struggle to build up their client roster and fall out of touch with the latest developments in the field. If you want to avoid this fate for your agency and develop a vibrant, productive networking practice, this blog is for you.

Why is networking important for marketing agencies?

Agency networking may seem redundant if you already have a system in place to generate leads and stay up-to-date on marketing trends in other ways, like following thought leaders. The truth is, nothing can replace the benefits of embedding your digital agency in a robust, continuously evolving professional network.

Building relationships and partnerships

Deep, long-lasting relationships are integral to agency success. Your clients are far less likely to churn out if they have a strong personal connection to your agency, even if they could get the same services elsewhere at a lower price. Through networking, you allow yourself to create more of these valuable relationships that sustain your business long-term.

Expanding client base and business opportunities

Agency networking lets you tap into exponential, rather than linear, growth. By staying active in your network, every connection you make can potentially expose you to more opportunities. The more connections you have, the more business opportunities and prospects will become available through word-of-mouth recommendations.

Gaining industry insights and knowledge

By networking, you get an on-the-ground view of the latest developments in your niche, like

  • Emerging problems and pain points faced by your target customer base
  • Real-time information about trends and industry developments
  • Exclusive information that may be discussed in more casual networking settings

Enhancing credibility and reputation

Your agency’s reputation precedes you, so fostering a positive association with your business can pay major dividends in the long run. By maintaining an active presence through networking, your agency and its representatives will benefit from:

  • Being perceived as engaged: Attending networking events and being present in your community sends the message that your agency is credible, active, and involved.
  • Becoming a thought leader: Through agency networking, you’ll have opportunities to speak at events, engage in forums, and establish your agency as a go-to resource for prospects.
  • Building trust: People are more likely to work with those they know, trust, and like, and building that foundation of trustworthiness starts with active agency networking.

Benefits of agency networking

The benefits of networking as a digital marketing agency extend beyond just building client relationships you can count on long-term, as valuable as they are. Consider these business-boosting perks of agency networking:

Increased referrals and leads

There’s no replacing the personal touch: referrals remain a powerful vector for new referrals, leads, and closed business (Vendasta). The more you build up and stay active in your network, the more you’ll see the payoff in the form of a healthy, active sales pipeline.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing

Collaborating and sharing know-how with your community, whether it’s clients, prospects, or collaborators, invites them to do the same. Networking is a two-way street, so by participating and being open, the same spirit of knowledge sharing will return to you.

Access to resources and expertise

It’s true that we have more resources available at a few strokes of a keyboard than ever before. But when it comes to building up your resource base and benefiting from the expertise of others,  there’s no replacing the value of real-world, real-time interactions.

You don’t even need to close a new customer to benefit: just by interacting with prospects and others in your niche, you’ll be exposed to their insights and methods, which you can apply to your digital agency.

Opportunities for professional development and growth

Whether you’re planning your digital agency startup or you’ve been in the game a while, you’re probably well aware that lifelong learning is part of the gig. Continuously growing as a marketer and agency owner will keep your business cutting-edge, ensuring you can solve today’s problems, not yesterday’s.

Networking challenges for agencies

If agency networking didn’t have its challenges, everyone would be acing this part of entrepreneurship. Knowing why your competitors sometimes falter when it comes to this business development activity can help you avoid the same pitfalls.

Time constraints and competing priorities

We’re not Pollyannas around here: we know that growing a digital agency requires balancing multiple priorities at once, and sometimes, these will feel more pressing than attending a networking event.

The best way to overcome this is to plan and treat your agency networking commitments as just that, commitments. By getting networking events and meetings on your calendar ahead of time, it’s easier to plan around them than if, say, you’re actively working on a client project and you try to coax yourself away from it on short notice.

Creating time in your calendar by delegating tasks can also give you more chances to network. For example, consider freeing up time for business development by hiring a white-label digital agency to support you.

Finding the right networking events and platforms

The right events and platforms depend on several factors:

  • Your industry niche. For example, you may be able to find trade shows your target customers attend.
  • Characteristics of your ideal customer. For example, very small businesses may participate in different events and platforms than more established medium-sized businesses.
  • Your geographic area and that of your customers. If you work with local customers, it will be easier to network with them in person.
  • The services you offer. If you offer website design and development, different networking opportunities may be available than, say, if you offer content marketing.

Overcoming introversion and building confidence

Mingling with new people isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but you don’t have to be a social butterfly to benefit from agency networking. Try these techniques:

  • Start with small goals: Just attending an event can help you get more comfortable, even if you don’t do much talking.
  • Practice presenting: Film yourself speaking or presenting. You may feel silly, but this is an excellent way to improve how you present yourself.
  • Ask questions: Focus on asking questions about others and their businesses if you’re not sure how to begin talking about your agency. From there, the conversation will flow naturally.

Maintaining consistent and meaningful connections

Forging connections is one thing, but the real bottom-line boosting benefits of agency networking come from maintaining those relationships. Many struggle with this step, which requires more than just attending the odd event and collecting business cards.

Try these tips for maintaining your new connections:

  • Follow-up: Send a follow-up email right away to establish the relationship post-event.
  • Set up time to check in: At an interval that makes sense for you, set aside a couple of hours to touch base with your network. You could an email commending a recent achievement of theirs or sharing a resource they may find useful.
  • Don’t neglect social media: Connect with people on platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn, where small interactions like likes or comments can keep you top-of-mind.

Want to hear a pro share his insights about fostering long-lasting client partnerships? Check out this episode of the Conquer Local podcast with co-founder and CMO Jeff Tomlin and founder and CEO of Nowspeed Marketing, David Reske:

Best settings for agency networking

To get your creative juices flowing regarding where to begin your agency networking journey, consider these tried-and-true settings.

Industry conferences and trade shows

Good old-fashioned conferences and trade shows remain a great way to build your network. Since they’re usually restricted to one or a few days, they don’t require the long-term commitment of other methods, but still expose to you numerous prospects and collaborators.

Professional associations and networking groups

The benefit of professional associations and networking groups is their regularity. It’s much easier to build deep, long-term relationships with other participants who you encounter regularly.

Online communities and social media platforms

While online communities don’t quite replace the dynamics of in-person networking, they are an excellent way to keep relationships going after an event. They can also be fruitful for making new contacts, especially those in other geographic areas who you might not otherwise meet.

Collaborative projects and partnerships

Collaborating with others can help all partners benefit from each other’s networks. For example, if your agency partners with a local print shop to create marketing collateral for clients, you can both recommend each other to new clients.

Tips for agency networking

We’ll send you off with some actionable tips to help you make the most of your networking journey. Refer to these whenever you feel you could be more engaged and productive in your agency networking efforts.

Set clear networking goals and objectives

While you can’t always control the outcomes of your agency networking practice, you can set yourself up for success with clear goals like:

  • Number of events to attend
  • Number of contacts to make
  • Scheduled times to follow up with contacts
  • Presenting at X events per year

Research and target relevant networking opportunities

You’re the best judge of which networking opportunities feel aligned for your agency, so take the time to uncover what’s available in your industry and location.

Prepare and practice your elevator pitch

The more you practice, the more it’ll flow off the tongue when you’re in front of a real prospect. Video is your friend, but practicing in front of the mirror works too.

Actively listen and engage in conversations

Don’t go into a networking event thinking only of what you want to get out of it. Instead, maintain an open mind and an inquisitive attitude.

Follow up and nurture relationships

Instead of leaving follow-up to chance, plan how you’re going to nurture your relationships and schedule your activities like any other important meeting. This tip alone will put you miles ahead of your competitors when it comes to mastering agency networking.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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