One of the best ways to build your business is through networking. Not only will you get support and ideas for your business, but you may even get customers. Every business should have a networking plan within their business plan. Expanding your professional network of people can be a great source of growth for your business. When considering networking as part of your business consider some of the following.
It seems obvious, but sometimes you may feel as though joining something is a time waster. After all, there are widgets to build or paperwork that you must finish. Who has time for joining things? The answer is nobody. We live in a busy world. However, like exercise you need to make time in your schedule to be involved in community and professional organisations. The contacts you make and the information you receive there is invaluable. Some join organisations to fill space on their CVs or be listed as a supporting business in some directory. While that’s fine, it’s not networking. You need not only join, but you need to become involved. You need to become involved, introduce yourself a lot, and capture a reasonable amount of business cards and phone numbers. Make a game of it.
Have an Online Presence
Social media is a great way to network. There are plenty of sites available for simple social connection. There are also those that are geared specifically for business and professional connections. The basic plans rarely cost anything and can be a great way to market your product and service. However, an even greater use of the social media is finding like-minded professionals and professional organisations. These websites can serve as a great directory for people you need to meet. More and more, regional business social sites are popping up on the Internet. These local groups provide the best of both worlds by offering digital connections as well as face-to-face opportunities.
Trade Shows and Fairs
Buying spaces at trade shows and fairs are a great way to not only get exposure for your business, but it gives you an opportunity to meet others who you might want to know. Trade shows and fairs allow you to take your product and service to people rather than wait for them to try to find you. It also works in networking. It provides a great chance to collect business cards. The professionals at other tables may become your new best friend and a great resource for your business.
Be a Diligent Card Collector
For effective networking, you can’t be too shy. You need to see each person you meet as someone who you might like to know better. It may not work out, but you keep that thought in the back of your mind and exchange business cards or phone numbers anyway. Anybody you have any kind of conversation with anywhere is a good candidate. Parties, in line at the supermarket or theatre, at the pub, at church, or anywhere is a good place to make a friend. Human beings being what they are, not all of them are going to take. However, a good number of them will and you will be surprised how fast your list of resources grows.