Seven Tips to Make Your Small Business Networking Work Like Magic
Networking is a skill that is necessary to achieve both business and personal success. It’s an easy and effective way to build your business. It’s a way of connecting with others that can expand your opportunities exponentially.
Here are some fundamental tips to become a more effective networker:
Choose one to three specific organizations to join and attend their meetings on a regular basis. You might choose one group for business networking, one for professional development, one that is community related, and one that is your professional association. Varying the associations you attend regularly will give you access to a wide variety of information and an invaluable list of contacts.
Know what you want. The more specific you are about your goal for attending, the more chance you have of achieving it. Don’t walk into a room without knowing who will be there, what you hope to achieve, and what you are willing to share in return.
Plan to attend each group at least once a month. More frequent attendance will raise your visibility and help you build trusting relationships. The most successful strategic alliances, whether formal or informal, come from networking relationships that are based on trust.
Focus on the quality, not the quantity, of your connections. Take the focus off yourself. Listen to the concerns, needs, and challenges of the person you are in conversation with. Really listen to them. Listen to the content as well as the context of what they are saying.
Have something interesting to share. Keep up with current events and topics that are of interest in general conversation so that you can start conversations easily. You’re building relationships and those relationships in turn can build business opportunities.
Volunteering for committees and boards is a terrific way to expand your networks. There are usually numerous opportunities to volunteer for groups you join. This will lead to long term relationships where people will get to know you and your business on a deeper level and will be happy to send you referrals. They can become your “sales team” without you having to ask them.
Respond to new contacts in a timely fashion. Send without delay anything you have promised. An email with a simple “nice to have met you” can be very effective for reinforcing the meeting. Pass on any information that may be useful to people in their business as a way to reinforce the relationship. Be prepared to give more than you receive.
Keep these steps in mind when you are getting out there and connecting with people so that you will to get noticed, be remembered, and be sought out for your expertise.
Networking is a great way to be seen, get known, and move ahead. Choose one to three specific organizations to join, and attend on a regular basis. Be prepared, get involved, and be sure to follow up. Set monthly targets for how many networking events you will attend, and commit to going by writing them into your daytimer.
- Set networking goals for which group meetings you will go to each month and the number of times you will attend.
- Commit to attending by writing these dates in your daytimer. Commit even more by asking someone to attend with you.
- Delegate to someone to enter the contact information from cards you collect at networking events.
- Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software to track your communication and contacts with colleagues, prospects, and clients.