Better Networking Strategies for the Modern Small Business Owner

Every small business owner recognizes the importance of networking. You can’t be an entrepreneur today and not hear or read the buzzword “networking” at least several times a day.

However, this doesn’t mean that every small business owner is equally adept at reaching out and working the circuit. If you need help or ideas when it comes to your personal networking plan, you’re not alone. Networking can be one of the more challenging aspects of owning a business because it involves stepping out of your comfort zone.

Difficulty level aside, reaching out to other entrepreneurs is a crucial part of how successful your small business can be. It’s a great way to generate leads which can increase your customer base, and it can also help you to learn and grow as a person and business owner.

Give the following networking tips a try – you might be better at networking than you thought!

Focus on forming relationships

Instead of going into the networking process with the mindset of striking a deal at every turn, commit to the concept of forming friendships with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

The traditional approach to networking through formal meetings and conferences can still be effective ways to hook up with other business owners, but you should also constantly be thinking about making authentic contacts as you move through your workday. You never know who may end up being your next great connection.

Knock the pitch out of the park

No matter where you do most of your networking, you have to make an incredible first impression. With only seconds to impress upon someone why they should want to continue connecting with you in the future, have an elevator pitch prepared and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Naturally, work on honing your go to introduction so that it sounds less like a pitch and more like a good reason to get to know you better.

Be honest about your intentions

Even as you work to change your mindset towards building relationships that last, leading with honesty is always the best policy. If you’re looking to expand your company‘s reach into a new geographic area, a good tactic can be reaching out to friends of a friend. Reveal your motives as you give your elevator pitch and then quickly transition into committing to the “slow burn” of long-term relationship-building.

Use social media

Small Business Trends Magazine reports that, as of November 2016, 97% of adults who use the Internet either utilize or visit a social networking site regularly. The most popular social networking sites include: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Cyber-networking has actually proven to be quite successful and prosperous for many modern small business owners. Connect online with local entrepreneurs in your industry as well as those who may complement your business. Often, online connections can prove to be as fortuitous in business as they are in romantic comedies.

Leave an impression (and your contact info)

As you work to grow your networking circle, remember to always have plenty of business cards on hand. Even if you make a lasting impression, it will mean little if your new connections don’t know how to contact you. Many business owners today still favor traditional business cards, while others have transitioned to the digital business card. It’s a good idea to be familiar with how to create, share and exchange the more modern e-business card while still carrying paper business cards, so that you are prepared for the preferences of anybody you meet.

 

Image: “Cheers” by Jakob Montrasio – licensed under CC by 2.0