So What Is Small Business Networking?
Putting it quite simply; it is the art of relationship building; it is about meeting other small business owners and engaging in a conversation.
This is not just a social occasion for a drink and a chat, although having some fun is still a vital part for everyone concerned. It is not a quick way to make money or build your career, rather it is a commitment to achieving those goals over the medium to long term. So don’t come away from your first networking event thinking this did not work for me, why bother…
But for rewards over time, business networking is a very specific task; activities focused and deliberate, and it should be viewed as such. Professionalism and courtesy are the key.
Business networking is about identifying suitable links – people and businesses you wish to create work relationships with for growing your business opportunities.
Successful people network through comfortable conversations. Remember you are about meeting people, not actively selling.
Become known as very genuine, helpful and reliable. Smart operators don’t constantly target you with any heavy sales pitch. Work at establishing a relationship and friendship first. Business tends to flow naturally from there.
Here are some points to consider about small business networking…
- It helps find new clients
- It helps retain existing clients
- Identifies best practice and provides market intelligence
- Updates us on our own marketplace
- May help source new employees or business partners
- You sell yourself; you are the business when you network. In spite of the Internet and technology people still seem to prefer doing business with those they know, like and trust
- Real conversations allow you to listen and hear first hand what people are saying
- You have eye contact, you can assess the emotion levels, commitment and passion people have engaged in one on one or small group conversations
- You can gauge pretty quickly whether they really are the type of person you can, or want to establish a long term relationship with
- Participate! It is true – you only ever get out what you put in! Business rarely comes to you without your own effort; if it does it will not last without your effort to maintain it