Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Grow Your Network and Grow Your Business



How to Effectively Network to Improve Your Small Business

small business networking
Networking is an important part of business, weather you are an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start a new business or a seasoned owner looking to expand your current operation. Although this is a key part of growing your business, for many small business owners, networking can be a challenging task. When you are ready to start making meaningful business connections, there are a few tips you can follow to make sure that your networking efforts will have a positive impact on your business as a whole.

First Impressions are Everything

When you are running a business, you never know who you are going to come across in your day to day activities that will make an impact on your company. Because of this, it is important to make sure to put your best foot forward during networking events and even just normal interactions every day. Studies say that it takes 200 times the amount of effort to undo a poor first impression that it does to make a good one, so make sure to be present and show the best version of yourself as much as possible.

Create a Personal Connection

Making a great first impression is the first step in networking and making connections for your business. The next important step is to make a personal connection with the people you are interacting with that is both positive and make others feel good about you. Doing this is memorable, and part of networking is building a group of people who want to call on you when your business can fulfill their needs or wants. When conversing with others, use questions that are opened ended instead of ones that require only “yes” or “no” answers – this leaves the door open to learn more about people and connect with them.

Be a Great Listener

When networking and trying to build strong business relationships, it is important to focus more on the relationship portion of the transaction than the business part. This idea goes hand in hand with making a good first impression – conversations with possible business partners should be warm and engaging. It is important to also show a genuine interest in other people and spend more time listening to what they have to say about themselves than talking about yourself and your business.

Reconnect

After a networking event, make sure to follow up with the people you interacted with – when you do not touch base with your connections in a timely manner, the conversations you had and the effort you exerted to network with them were wasted. A few days after meeting someone new, take the time to pass them a hand-written note letting them know you enjoyed meeting and speaking with them and also thanking them for their time. This will show others that their interactions with you were of value. 

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*Photo Courtesy of Marc Smith via Creative Commons License

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