Small Business Networking Will Increase Your Net Worth
“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Do you? I know that this famous song from the Beatles rings true for me. I’m sure I wouldn’t have reached any level of success without building a strong network of contacts and friends.
Successful business networking is one of the essential tools small business owners can use to make your business work. Here are five ways I’ve built my network successfully:
1. Utilize social media to sustain an established network
Social media should not take the place of in-person meetings as I’ll explain in a minute, but LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are great avenues to keep you in touch with your network.
The key is to participate frequently. Sharing your activities and posting relevant information keeps you in front of your audience and network. Just don’t overdo it. Too much sharing often causes people to ignore your posts.
2. Be friendly and professional
Friendliness and professionalism can work hand-in-hand. From my experience, treating a business contact with warmth and affection is often reciprocated.
Many of my dearest friends were first customers and clients. In fact, you may be talking business with a contact one moment, and then they fly over from Munich, Germany to attend your wedding! (True story!)
3. Stellar introductions are strong tools
While introductions are tricky, when pulled off effectively, they are one of your strongest tools. One element I have learned is to think about the business needs at hand and how they two can mutually benefit one another.
Even though some people can connect directly with a simple introduction, most of the time they need a little help.
Share a summary of each person’s background and the reason you are making the introduction. Setting up the context puts them at ease, and they can join into a conversation easier. Soon they discover how they can work together and can thank you for the initial meeting. Try it. I’ve found it almost foolproof.
4. It’s about quality, not quantity
Building a large network of contacts based on headcount does not translate into a strong network. When I refer to “headcount” contacts, I mean all the people you meet, but are not necessarily going to be there for you in a time of need.
Meeting someone is not the same as expecting them to be responsive to you, or your requests and favors. In my experience, a smaller group of contacts who are guaranteed to be responsive to you is much more effective.
How do you build this kind of group?
Always be on the lookout to be of service to your contacts. Help someone with completing a task. Be the link if someone you know needs an introduction to someone else you know.
Karma can be your best friend when building a strong network.
5. Meet in person
The best tools for networking are not Twitter and Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. They are great and extremely useful, but they aren’t the best out there.
There’s nothing better than meeting in person and spending quality time building a foundation of mutual trust and understanding.
I know. Sounds a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But a re-tweet will never compare to a handshake. Social media posts are a nice way to keep in touch with people…after you met. You will see more positive reactions to you after you have met someone face-to-face, not in the digital world.
Increasing your small business networking…increases your net worth!
Quality interactions and mutual support are the foundation to growing your network. Try these five tips out and see if your bottom line doesn’t reap the benefits. They work for me – and I bet they will work for you.