Though focused primarily on digital marketing in Wales, we at Ivy Marketing are also concerned with traditional forms of promotion. This week, we spoke with Tracey Smolinksi; the ‘Queen of Networking’.

As the Founder of Wales’ leading independent business network, Introbiz, Tracey paints a clear picture of how important getting face-to-face with people still is in this digital age.

Tell us a little bit about Introbiz and where it all started.

I am very open about the fact that I got networking very wrong during my first three months. I gave it the hard sell and almost completely gave up; but, not until I took some sound advice.

I started networking in the correct way, by building relationships and trust and went on to sell £100,000 worth of advertising revenue over the next 6 months. I saw first-hand how powerful and profitable networking could be for business. Following this I spotted a gap in the market and decided to start my own networking company, and so Introbiz was born!

What advice would you give to those new to networking?

Smile, be engaging and interested in others. Just be yourself and get to know people, be yourself and ask about how you can help them first. Always think it’s not about you it’s about helping others first, that way you build up the rapport, trust and people will get to like you as you help them. Don’t give it the hard sell, networking is all about building relationships first and the business will soon follow.

At Ivy, we very much sing the praises of creating online communities; how important is it for business leaders to still engage face-to-face with people?

Online is good but when you can look someone in the eyes, engage and ask questions about others, that cements the relationship further. People buy people and connections face to face is a great way to build rapport and trust.

We notice that you create regular content for the Introbiz website; why is this beneficial in promoting your brand?

You have to be at the forefront of people’s minds when they think of your types of services, i call it the TOMATO principle. Top Of Mind Attracts Top Opportunities. However, it takes at least 7 times for people to see your brand before they even react to you. By being there in the forefront, they’ll remember you as long as you can provide value and you have a fantastic offering. Business is all about solving a problem and serving a need. You also have to stand out, be different and make it a no brainer to buy your brand.

As a company that has a strong social media following, what tips would you give to companies eager to gain connections online?

Offer some free advice or tips, see how you can help others online, that’s when you start to build trust. If you add value to people’s businesses with free tips, they’ll be more likely to follow you. Also, engage in normal conversation on social media, which builds rapport, if you become robotic or you don’t engage in normal conversation people may think that you don’t care.

As somebody that spends the majority of their time networking in large groups, how did you cope with the solitude of writing your book; Master Networking?

Writing my book on my own I had to really focus but I always had in mind, I was writing it to share my mistakes and knowledge to help others. It’s always about adding value to other people’s businesses that motivated me to do this.

We’re looking forward to seeing Mark Wright of Climb Online speak at this year’s Expo; will digital marketing be playing a prominent role at this year’s event?

Yes, digital marketing is very much the focus this year and we’ve got a lot of exciting things happening with Introbiz this year and next. We are learning more about online sales funnels and this will be launched at the expo with Andy Phillips from Funnel Centric. Introbiz is passionate about learning new things and communicating our new knowledge to everyone else to help them in their businesses and to assist with their growth and ours. Mark Wright is an exceptional speaker, engaging inspiring, charismatic but very knowledgeable too.

What are your future plans for Introbiz?

Future plans are very exciting going forward, we’re working on our franchise model at the moment, as Introbiz is going global. We’re getting involved with more training events next year to inspire others. We’re also working on helping more start-ups, watch this space, exciting times ahead. It’s always about helping more people in business.