Small business networking 101: tips and tricks from the experts.
If you are opening a new business, small business networking is a good way to promote it. The essentials of business networking are not only limited to small businesses though, you can also find it an effective way to advertise yourself as an entrepreneur or a large corporate.
Networking is an effective and low-cost method to develop sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals through meetings and gatherings. Don’t confuse the term “networking” with computer terminology, the business of networking is very people focused and revolves around building real connections. It’s all about meeting and mixing with people from the same sector of your industry as well as potential referral sources. Business networking allows you to meet people to advertise your business and reach decision-makers that could assist in developing your business in the future.
Sali Stevanja, co founder of Her Black Book, and serial entrepreneur, gives us this advice on networking:
- First and foremost, networking is about building trust among entrepreneurs while being genuine and authentic. Be yourself and people will sense the authenticity of what you have to say immediately.
- Don’t expect to make deals on the first meeting. Networking is about getting to know others within your industry, or from completely unrelated industries. Always have the premise of building trust and relationships at the forefront of your networking activities. People don’t do business with people they don’t know, like or trust.
- Listen. Don’t do all the talking. It’s not about you and what you are going to get out of the networking event. It’s about being meaningful and understanding what people might be able to offer you in the future.
- Ask open-ended questions! This form of questioning opens up the discussion and will show that you are interested in participating with the networking.
- Follow through quickly on the referrals. Respect and honor the referrals, and show that you like to meet them. With these, people will keep giving you referrals that can help you with your business.
- Know your point of difference and reason for being. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why you do it.
- Become a powerful resource for others. This will improve your visibility among people and give you more referrals knowing that you are a strong resource. Again, it comes back to building trust first and foremost!
So get out there and test out some of these small business networking tips and tricks. Stop focusing on only finding people to do a deal with, and start focusing on relationships you can build. Be recognised by people who share the same way of thinking as you are and you will naturally create business opportunities, achieve your goals and be successful!