It is still important for small businesses to know their
local communities in order to grow. Gaining a loyal client base who refer your
business to their friends, family and local organizations will help your
business grow. A virtual space, whether website or blog, is a great start to
getting your name known. But, face-to-face networking is key selling in person
Networking is not something to dread, but rather
a skill to be developed that you can rely on when you are trying to fill those
first few minutes of meeting potential clients. Prepare a yourself for the
random chance encounter or the official networking event with these tips:
1. Prepare an Elevator Pitch
2. Be involved with the local community
3. Make Networking a Priority Goal
5. Follow up with the people you meet
While there is ongoing debate about the usefulness of business cards, it largely depends on what field you are in, your budget, how comfortable you are with handing them out, and whether you can consistently remember to keep them on your person. Maybe sending someone an e-card, which can range from automatic email to a pay for use e-card service, is more in line with your field than a physical card. Whatever way to exchange contact information is most convenient and helpful for you to use, just use it.
There are also plenty of tips to help for when you find yourself at official networking events. These can range from logical introductions to helpful keys to success, such as; don't approach someone as they are walking to the restroom, or to understand that making a personal connection is more important than collecting as many business cards as you can. If you want to evaluate your baseline networking skills, Confident Networking for Career Success and Satisfaction, has a 21 question survey in the introduction to determine what skillsets you can refine to go from an underperforming networker to a confident one. The 105-point scale gives you a taste of what great networkers do, and what areas to develop to improve your skills further in this book or others.
As authors Ivan Misner, Mike Macedonio and Mike Garrison describe in the book Truth or Delusion? Busting Networking's Biggest Myths, networking is not a fad but a cornerstone of business that can be learned as long as you can focus on developing meaningful relationships through clearly communicating your ideas. And numerous resources at the Dallas Public Library can inspire and encourage you to develop relationship principles to improve your networking ability. Connect with the B.R.A.I.N. and start networking today.