For the entrepreneur and the small business owner, there aren’t many strategies that can increase growth, add security and spread your reputation more effectively than networking. Actively networking your products, services and business is something everyone can and should do.
In the course of this article, we’ll explore networking and how to go about it. The information presented will cover online networking as well as doing it in the �real world.� In today’s volatile market, in fact, you can almost not help but network on and off line.
Networking, to use a simple definition, is a group of people coming together in a cooperative spirit. If you’ve ever attended a networking event, you will no doubt have noticed that it can easily become little more than a sales fest. For the most part however, a good networking organization will promote a spirit of cooperation.
So why is networking such an important strategy? First, there isn’t a better way to promote anything than face to face. Word of mouth is the finest form of advertising or marketing. To take it a step further, meeting potential clients and business associates in person builds strong relationships. Such relationships can have a very positive long-term effect.
When you are involved with a quality network, or perhaps several of them, you not only have a venue for promoting and generating new business, you can protect yourself more effectively against economic downturns.
When it comes to the actual networking process, there are a few guidelines to remember. These simple rules of thumb really do work in both the real world and online. In both cases, endeavor to show yourself to be a valuable commodity. Offer your knowledge and experience in a genuine and helpful fashion.
Don’t try to be a sales person all the time. Nobody likes a hard sell. When at a networking event and all you try to do is promote your own company, you will find that this turns people off. This is true for the internet as well. Offer useful information to those with whom you’re connected. Its okay to sell, but keep that to about twenty or thirty percent of the time.
Actively show a real interest in others. Listen to them, and ask strategic questions that will get them talking. You’ll be surprised by what you can discover just by letting others talk about themselves. If you do this properly and genuinely, you’ll find that in many cases you will find out exactly what there needs are and they’ll probably ask you to fill them without you having to sell at all.
For internet-based networking, you have many choices. Arguably the best for entrepreneurs and small business people will be Facebook and LinkedIn. There are certainly many more social networking websites, but these two offer the widest variety of tools for networking and promotion. Begin by uploading your email information to find contacts you know and go from there. You’ll be surprised by how rapidly you can accumulate a very large network.
In regards to the �real world� aspect of networking, start by finding any niche groups that are related to your business. You will also want to go to general open networking events. You’ll find that at the niche meetings, there are many others just like you, so direct sales may not come that often. However, you will establish invaluable contacts for the long term. At the more social events, there will be people from all genres of business and the sales opportunity will be much more prevalent, as will the chance that you’ll be the focus of the selling. That’s okay, though. It’s part of the game.
Another good person to person networking opportunity is anything centered around a singular focus that brings different businesses together. This would include educational programs, seminars and so on. These are very effective because not only can you learn something valuable, but they tend to engender a more cooperative group dynamic.
Metcalfe’s law states that the economic power of a business can be measured by the square of the number in the network. This means that if you have a network of 20, your economic power is 400. What’s even more exciting, is that when the number in your network doubles, your economic power quadruples. To go even further, the bigger your network, the more secure you become economically. You’ve got many more avenues to generate income as well as a large support system. So if you have yet to begin networking, please do so right away. And if you are networking, keep it up. Networking is a powerful and vital technique in growing a business and creating wealth.
David has built a thriving IT consulting firm providing quality Infor Lawson and Kronos consulting and training services. He has done so by a constant sales and networking program as well as online marketing. Come and see his website and how he offers the best affordable services for his current and potential clients.