Networking is crucial to the success of any small business, and that’s why this article offers a simple guide to better networking. Why is networking so important? It helps to establish meaningful connections and key relationships with other area businesses. Networking gives you a direct line of communication with decision makers and key business owners in your area. These relationships build contacts, push important referrals, increase sales opportunities, and foster goodwill. Put the competition aside and build a solid circle of support.
Here is a simple guide to better networking:
- Take the time to introduce yourself – this is the act of simply walking in and informing other business owners about who you are and what you do. Be sure to keep business cards on hand to give to others and make sure your card has all of your direct contact information on it. If the operator or owner of the business isn’t available, it is okay to leave your card for them to find and then follow up with a call later or an email that introduces yourself. The basic objective is to reach out and make a connection.
- Do a good job– If you operate your business ethically and provide value that draws appreciation from your clients and other area businesses, you won’t have much trouble gaining other friends in the business. Always be fair and diplomatic and be willing to extend good will.
- Be a community activist – Get involved and make sure you have a say in what affects your business and goes on in your community. You can do this by joining a local nonprofit or other organization, groups, or other councils in the area. It’s also wise to get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Have an online profile – Many business owners do a tremendous amount of their networking online. With social media services such as LinkedIn, you can connect with businesses from your area and beyond. And taking the time to give an online referral or occasional shoutout is easy to do and always appreciated.
- Build potential partnerships and be the one to initiate the conversation – You could consider a partnership with other area businesses for a promotion that encourages customers to shop locally or for another community event. This could provide great PR while also establishing solid working relationship with your competitors. And it can boost your sales and local exposure all at the same time. Basically, everyone wins!
While this simple guide to better networking offers up some helpful suggestions on ways to boost your networking efforts, there will always be some competitors that have no interest in working with you. Sometimes you can have clashing personalities, which makes the relationship anything but productive. It happens. The best thing you can do is control the way you run your business, and focus positively on the companies that desire to network and have a mutually beneficial working relationship with you and with your business.