Some people think that networking is a waste of time, but did you realize that it could actually help your business grow dramatically? Through networking, a business has the opportunity to meet influential people such as investors, advisors, potential employees, and even consumers.
Just as the video on the left points out, networking should be taken seriously since each new contact is a new chance to market your business. In addition, these new connections could not only distribute word-of-mouth about your products or services, but they could also lead to new ideas and partnerships.
Despite all these advantages, many businesses, unfortunately, do not make networking a priority. Some businesses think they don’t have time for it, and other businesses find it intimidating. However, networking should actually play a role in every business. It’s really not as hard as a business might think if it applies a few practical steps to the process.
First of all, a business needs to find places to network. A good starting point is industry conferences. This type of event allows businesses to meet and interact about common issues and problems.
Other great places for networking are community events, tweetups, and happy hours. It is important to remember that all of these events do not have to be geared toward your business’s industry. Other industries could, in effect, be helpful, since they may offer complimentary services for your business.
Secondly, the representatives that a business sends to a networking event need to be themselves. So many businesses create a faade when they are around other businesses to try to impress them. In most cases, this act has just the opposite effect. To make a good impression, business reps should be honest and confident in their story.
Another important step toward effective networking is to be prepared. Before an event, a business should request a guest list. This will give the reps time to determine whom they want to talk to and what they want to talk to them about. Reps should also create a plan for what they want other businesses to know about their business. Additionally, they should take business cards and writing materials for interacting with others.
Lastly, a business must follow up. If businesses do not follow up with their new contacts, the networking efforts are pointless. Follow up reminds people who you are and what your business does. In terms of the follow up itself, reps should try to include specific information from the event to avoid sounding like a template.
Interestingly, networking is just as important online as it is offline. Well-known blogger Chris Garrett offers this suggestion for getting discovered online: “Get off your blog… get out into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, [and] hit the forums.”
It is also important to remember that networking is not a one-time occurrence. It should happen continually over time in order to build long-term relationships.
Is your business networking effectively on and offline?
About the Author:
Abby Johnson is a Video Reporter/Anchor for SmallBusinessNewz.