Networking is an important part of your small business. Networking can help you get clients and new contracts which can effectively advance your small business.You need to first establish a network, then build it and continue to maintain it. A network is a like a resume it says who you are and what your goal is.
You can’t just ask someone to get in your network you have to contact them, work on a relationship and then maintain that relationship. This process is time-consuming and requires constant effort, but it will reward you and pay off in the end. Some may find it hard to build a network, but it is a must to grow your business.
Start your networking:
There are a few ways you can start networking.
Joining a network group is a great option. There are so many organisations available to join and plenty of groups that are dedicated to networking such as LinkedIn.
Attend as many networking events as you can. This can include a volunteer organisation within something you are interested in which will make the meet and greet situation easier.
When you attend an event, a bonus tip is to arrive early like a few others do then you can start a conversation with those few on your first time, so it isn’t as daunting joining a conversation within a large group.
Before you get there think ahead and have some talking points on hand that you can comfortably talk about. This needs to be a topic that not only interests you but the other as well.
Building your network
Once you have established the contact, you then need to create the relationship. A professional relationship is just like a personal one and needs to be approached the same. Learn what you can about the person, build the trust, have lunch with the contact and share information together that may be of interest to them.
It is important to also connect with your contacts on a personal level too. Find similar interests and share these together to form the bond. Once the relationship has been solid for a while, it is then when you can ask them about a favour for your business.
Maintaining the network
You need to keep reaching out to the network. Technology makes it easier to keep in touch like social platforms and emails. If your new contact has a business it can help them out if you advertise and list their business on your advertisement, be sure to offer them help when they need it. The relationship won’t continue if the help is only one-sided. Maintaining the relationship and keeping in touch often with the offers of helping them when they need it will put you in a more positive position to ask them for help.
If you are at the repeating stage, then well done you have managed to develop a solid network. Don’t get too excited the process still needs to continue. You need to continue reaching out to contacts. Networking for your business is an ongoing cycle but you will eventually get used to it, and it will become a normal part of your working day.