The key for every small business? Networking, which is defined by Entrepreneur.com as meaning, “Developing and using contacts made in business for purposes beyond the reason for the initial contact.”
That’s a mouthful but it suggests something well beyond a passing fancy. It is all about building up business relationships that are mutual and satisfying. Not always on equal terms, but beneficial to both parties.
Effective networking is something everyone should strive for, but how do we implement and nurture that strategy? There are a number of things you can do to help you in that endeavor:
1. Get Real:
If you want to be a business associate, then show yourself friendly. This means being “real” with people and genuinely concerned with how that person thinks or feels.
2. Be Clear:
Too many messages are muddled these days with people parsing their words, changing what they said, or outright reneging on their promises. Who needs that? Say what you mean, mean what you say and you will eliminate most misunderstandings.
3. Immerse Yourself:
Break free of just one group of people by joining several groups of similar business interests. Let your enthusiasm spring forth, be passionate about whatever who you are and what you do. This also means culling activities where you do not excel or where networking fruit is non-existent. Poet Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “It’s faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living.” Enthusiasm is contagious and can be a life giver!
4. Stand Tall:
Are you an expert in your business field or knowledgeable in a particular area of expertise? Become known as a trusted authority and do everything you can to cultivate and maintain that trust. A “go to” person is a people magnet, someone frequently called upon for help.
5. Assume Leadership:
Not everyone is a leader, many people are followers. But leadership goes beyond a title, it is also a condition. Initiate, implement, and advance what you believe and people will respect you regardless of your title. Even effective leaders know their place as British statesman Benjamin Disraeli said, “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”
6. Respond Quickly:
When approached by someone for your business or when an inquiry is made, be prepared to respond as soon as you can. Your quick response shows this person that you think they are important, someone they will remember as being a helpful network builder.
7. Joint Projects:
Collaborate with like-minded people to get the job done. Rubbing shoulders with people cements relationships, offering visible proof of each person’s talents.
Each of these steps must be put into practice nurtured if you want to be part of a healthy network. Your strong network is what you will need to help grow your business and build a word-of-mouth campaign that can market your business product and service.