How Small Business Networking Strengthens Your Personal Brand
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Ideally, every business can only survive when there are people, and one’s net gain depends on his network. No wonder the economics analysts maintain that connecting/networking is one of the most important business, and life skill sets you will ever learn. Studies have shown that a greater percentage of people found their job through personal contacts. Successful people who have made it, did so through the help of the people they met along the line. Thus, buttressing the adage, “no man is an island."
Networking can be defined as the building, maintaining and developing relationships.
Tips on how to become successful in your business using networking
One of the best ways to continuously develop while working is to expand your network. It can be achieved by:
- Making introductions and expanding your network which will help you to develop new ideas and ways of thinking
- Sharing experiences
- Finding sources of support
- Develop your skills and increase your awareness
A few ways that you could expand your network include:
- Having an occasional meet-up by having lunch with someone outside your current network.
- Work with your mentor so you can to identify connections that might be beneficial to you in the future or presently.
- Identify someone that could make a positive impact in your work project and schedule time to share your project strategy with him or her.
Mistakes to avoid when building your network
1. Trying to market your products and services
When you’re going to any networking event, try not to focus on getting clients, at this time as this will make you miss out on establishing connections. Focus instead, on getting to know new people. Or, try to spend time with people who you know but need to get to know better. This person may not purchase from you immediately and may not even send referrals to you, yet. But, with time and development they could become a great connection or lead you to great connections.
2. Handing out too many business cards
If you made the mistake of thinking handing out business cards at a networking event is ideal, then think twice because this is not a numbers game! Rather than worrying about sharing cards, focus on starting new conversations with new people and collect their cards as well.
Make sure that you make the kind of connections people will remember after they leave you. In this case, when you call them later or the next time you see them, they’ll remember having a positive or memorable conversation with you. Rather than focus on who you’ll give your card to next, learn about them and know more about their business. This develops connections and rapport. Find different ways that you can offer useful services or assist them, make proper introductions and references if you can. The ultimate goal is to get to know people.
3. The hard sell is dead.
If your plan is to chase away prospects, then this is exactly how you can do it. You can talk about what you offer. Briefly tell them the problems you solve and the expected outcomes your clients will get. However, you cross the line when you start to sell. It’s too much, too fast. Give time to develop the relationship and get to know them.
4. Following up with people after networking events, and selling them at once.
You must develop the relationship first by getting to know them, offer to be of service as much as you can and continue nurturing the relationship. If you do your follow-up via email, do not ever send them a sales pitch. Rather than that, reference a point in your previous conversation and offer them something valuable -- resource link, an informational article or introduction to your business. Keep thinking about the different ways to grow the ‘relationships’ and be of service. You will discover that your networking will start yielding more and more connections, friends, opportunities and referrals.
5. Dismissing individuals who you feel aren’t important
This is one of those unforgivable networking mistakes that can actually influence whether people will even take time to meet you in the future. You have to treat each and every person like a potential connection. You never know who someone is, who they will become or who they influence.
“He who has connections, has it all.”