It’s a tough market out there! And being a small business ourselves, we’ve faced the difficulty of creating a presence, acquiring clients, and fine-tuning our brand. As we continue on this journey, we want to be able to share what we’ve learned and encourage business owners to get themselves out there and grow their businesses!
Do I have to schmooze?
We’d say, flip the script. A common misconception is that it’s a grimy game, filled with fake compliments and ulterior motives. Start looking at networking as an opportunity to expand your circle and go beyond the usual suspects. The reality is that in order to grow your business you will need to expose yourself to more people. At some point, “networking” with the same crowd is not going to cut it.
Don’t get us wrong, supporting hometown businesses and attending local conferences is vital. But you also want to make sure you’re rubbing elbows with the big boys. Make sure you’re attending conferences and purchasing booths at places with a large turnout. Gather those business cards and offer some sweet prizes! It opens the door to several industries and partnerships you likely wouldn’t have otherwise come by.
Monitor your social media
Keep an eye out for what’s coming up. A lot of the time, you’ll find companies offering free tickets or putting on events for free. Just recently our team was able to attend the Facebook Civic Event at no cost. Not only did we learn helpful advertising strategies, but we were in a room full of potential clients. For those of you who are hesitant to get out there, using platforms like LinkedIn a great way to gain traction for your business. Just make sure you are consistent and posting useful information. And, don’t be shy to add people you don’t know! Chances are, they are looking to grow their network just as much as you are.
Personal and business growth
We all know that good things happen when we least expect them. A LinkedIn survey revealed that 85% of all jobs are found through networking and not the typical avenues. While you may not be on the hunt for candidates, networking, when done correctly, will cause you to meet some pretty interesting people – and save you the hassle of reading through resumes, hiring recruiters and interviewing a bunch of prospects.
Don't act desperate
And finally, probably one of the most important points in this article, don’t ooze of desperation. People want to do business with people they trust. Overselling is only going to affect your reputation and turn people off. Use networking events as a way to get to know people. Take interest in them, learn about what they are doing. The point of a network isn’t to have someone to run to only when you need something. Rather, it’s about establishing and nurturing professional relationships that are mutually beneficial, and enjoyable.
Networking is really what you make it. So, you can go ahead and be the obnoxious business card distributor, the Silent Sally in the background, or get in the crowd and have some fun! The choice is yours. Just remember, the success of your business depends on it.
1. The 1 networking rule 99 percent of people are afraid to follow, but should. Inc. Retrieved on June 14, 2019 from https://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/1-networking-rule-99-percent-of-people-are-afraid-to-follow-but-should.html
2. New survey reveals 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. Linkedin. Retrieved on June 14, 2019 from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler/
3. 5 misconceptions about networking. Harvard business review. Retrieved on June 14, 2019 from https://hbr.org/2016/04/5-misconceptions-about-networking
4. Business networking without looking desperate: 5 rules. CBS news. Retrieved on June 14, 2019 from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/business-networking-without-looking-desperate-5-rules/