It’s easy to see why having a great network of connections is an incredible boon for any small business. The input of a few key individuals can be the difference between a business’ stagnating and enjoying explosive growth. It’s so often not what you know, but who, and with these great tips you’ll be networking effectively in no time!
Meetup with a goal in mind
Local meetups are a staple networking tactic for businesses of all sizes but there’s definitely an art to making the most of them. We’ve all spent a long day in a conference centre, exchanging business cards with little to show for it at the end. Go in there with a purpose: think about what sort of person you’re looking to meet and politely work your way around the room until you find them. Better yet, find a meetup that specifically revolves around your business niche. These are often smaller, but the limited number of attendees is a small price to pay for greatly increased relevancy. Small meetups also offer you more time to talk to people and make a strong impression.
Leverage Face to Face
An overwhelming 85% of people prefer to meet in person because they feel that builds stronger and more meaningful business relationships. 95% of people say that face to face meetings are essential for long term business relationships. Why? In an increasingly digital world, taking the time and effort to actually meet up with someone makes an immediate impression. It conveys your passion, enthusiasm and commitment to the meeting: essentially you’re telling them that they’re very much worth your time. A strong mutual sense of respect like is essential for great networking
Of course, not every meeting can be face to face, especially when the people you’d most like to network with are usually the ones with the busiest schedules. That’s when remote networking can be a real lifesaver. As easy as it is to jot off a quick email or make a 5-minute phone call though, do your best to arrange a video chat. The nonverbal components of communicating to someone are surprisingly important to helping you make a lasting impression. It helps establish you in their minds as a living, breathing person rather than just another string of text or voice through a speaker.
Where better to network than on LinkedIn, the professional social networking tool explicitly designed for people looking to advance their career and business. The site has a lot of potential benefits but one of the best is its group features, which allows like-minded people to connect based around a topic, interest or profession. These groups are great for keeping up with the latest news in your industry, as well as sharing advice with one another. If you’re an active and engaged member, others are normally happy to help you with your own queries. Who better to ask if your business needs a new booking system for example,than people in your industry with hands-on experience?
Don’t be afraid to chase
It’s not uncommon for businesses to be concerned about repeat communications. Not wanting to seem spammy or to bother someone is just human nature, so when your email to a potential contact goes unopened, it’s easy to chalk it up as a loss and move on. In business though, a follow-up is rarely an imposition. In fact, with all the distractions and possibilities for missed communications in the modern workplace, it’s almost an inevitability. So, don’t be afraid to send a succinct, polite follow up email.