In the world of small businesses, networking is everything.
Being well connected leads to opportunities to expand your business, obtain new clients and employees and get the word out about who you are and what you do.
While advertising and social media have certainly changed the world of marketing, word-of-mouth and face-to-face meetings are still the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal.
Networking allows small business owners and employees to make personal connections and stand out among the crowd, and people are more likely to do business with someone they like, trust and remember.
Use networking as an easy, effective resource for your business with these tips:
- Be articulate. While networking is an opportunity to be more personal, time is still important and valuable. Be able to articulate the highlights of your business operations without hesitation so you can make the most of your time and meet as many people as possible.
- Make strategic connections. If you are attending a networking event, conference or social event, be sure to make strategic connections. That is not to say you should snub anyone who wants to talk to you, but try to spend your time talking to people in a similar field or whose relationships could benefit your company in the future.
- Do your homework. A great networking tip is to know who’s who before you go to an event. Obviously you won’t know everyone, but you should be able to recognize important business figures, CEOs, etc. and call them by name.
- Become a strong resource. When you are helpful to your new connections, they will remember. Within the guidelines of ethical behavior, sharing resources, information and ideas with your new connections will in turn prompt them to do the same for you.
- Keep in touch. The best way to make networking work for you is to not let it be a one-time thing. If you meet someone that you think could benefit your business or who you would like to work with in the future, keep in touch. Express that you enjoyed meeting them and exchange contact information.
Don’t be intimidated by networking. The bottom line is that meeting people and showing them you are passionate about your work will lead to bigger and better things.