Networking is about building relationships in hopes of working on amazing projects or bringing more attention (possible leads) to your business… So why isn’t it easier to develop those relationships? When networking, that person has to understand what you do and how you can add value, as we live in a ‘What’s In It For Me’ world. Small businesses can work together to offer a value to their customers or potential customers (i.e. an Event planner working with a Florist). The Florist will, hopefully, have loyal customers that they can refer to you and vice-versa. So how do we build relationships? Think of yourself as a moving advertisement(not obnoxious or narcissistic). It’s all about the approach, have your 30-second elevator pitch ready, but in order to develop a relationship it is about give and take. Have a sincere conversation, ask questions about the person you are trying to build a relationship with ( if you already know of the person, ask relevant questions about the services they offer or something you read that intrigued you). Obviously going to networking events is the in your face approach, but social media is also your friend (when done right). The following are helpful tips that I am trying to build my network of friends. I hope it helps you to connect!
Excerpts from an article about being a Power Networker, a Q&A with Liz Lynch on www.succeedasyourownboss.com
SmallBizLady: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make with networking?
Misperception #3 “I can’t network effectively because I’m an introvert” – That’s totally wrong. You might network differently from your extroverted friends, but I assure you, you can be successful. I know because I’m an introvert too, and over the years, I’ve discovered so many of my colleagues whom I consider to be great networkers in terms of the results they generate, are introverts too. There are ways to increase your comfort level if you’re an introvert. You can start out with smaller events, or ask the host to introduce you to people you should meet. You can also try to connect with other attendees online first so that you will already know some people when you arrive. A lot of networking groups and event organizers use social media tools so you can see who’s coming and what their background is, and open up the lines of communicate before the event.
SmallBizLady: What are some power tips for networking at events?
Liz Lynch: A big reason people don’t attend events is they feel awkward, they may be introverts and it’s hard for them to break into a crowd. Believe me, I’ve been there. The first networking event I ever attended, I lasted 5 minutes, so I definitely know the feeling of walking into a room full of strangers. So my power tip for them is to get to events early. Even 10-15 minutes before the event officially starts will make a big difference because at that point, there won’t be so many people in the room. It’s a lot easier to find someone to talk to, and before you know it, the event has built up around you and you’re at the center of things, rather than an outsider trying to break in. So that’s my power tip for introverts and anyone else who hates networking in person.
The 3 ways you should be using social media are:
- To build credibility: The majority of your posts should be intended to increase your reputation as an expert in your field. That means posting articles and resources your followers would find helpful. And it’s totally okay to share something personal every once in a while, that’s what adds dimension to your profile and helps people connect with you on other levels, especially if they share your same interest.
- To keep in touch: Social media makes it easy to keep in touch with so many people in your network in just minutes a day. On Facebook, you can see which of your friends is having a birthday, and on LinkedIn you can see who just got promoted or changed jobs. And it takes seconds to say “happy birthday” or “congratulations” or to “like” a post. And when you do that, not only does the person you’re talking to see that, and they feel great that you’ve acknowledged them, but their friends and followers see that too.
- To add value to others: Again, it takes seconds to share a link or retweet a post on social media, which means that in seconds, you can help someone in your network spread their message. No matter how busy they may be, you’ll show up on their radar screen in a very positive way because you’ve helped them. Every little touch point helps strengthen your relationship.
Whether B2B or B2C, relationships are important. Why not work together to help improve your bottom line. The big brands are doing it with bloggers, why not you? Remember… Brands need people, people love brands… if you have a loyal following, they (brands) will come! This can work for small businesses as well. Small businesses need people/other small businesses… If you have a loyal following/customers, they (small businesses/big brands/customers) will (take notice) come!
As always, let’s connect!