Starting and growing a new business can be daunting. It's important to have a strong network you can rely on for help. Building a network can lead to more success down the road, so it is essential that you understand why it's important and how to accomplish this.
Networking brings your business to the forefront of the competition and helps secure potential clients. The more people you meet, the more chances you have to educate them about your business. New customers can learn what you do and what makes your business unique. Existing customers can learn about new products and services, and why they should stick with you and ultimately recommend you to friends. People will be more likely to select your business, if they feel they know you, or have received a recommendation from someone they trust.
Now that you understand why it is important to grow your network, here are a few ways to accomplish this goal:
Be Present Online – Have a strong social media presence on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. Writing blogs can also be a great way to get your mission across. You can get to know other companies in your field by following their posts. The more you know about your community and competition, the better you will be at anticipating needs.
Attend Events - Plan to regularly attend networking events both in and out of your field. You never know where or when you may meet a potential investor, colleague, or future client. Meet-ups like happy hours, workshops and conferences are great ways to speak casually about your business and make connections with interested parties.
Be Organized – People don’t have a lot of time on their hands, so make sure you know exactly what you want your message to be and how you will stand out from the competition. What makes you different and why should a client pick you over someone else? It is also important to know your audience. Someone may be more interested in one aspect of your business over another. Figure these answers out ahead of time so you are ready to network when the opportunity comes.
When in Doubt, Don't Be the Shark - No one likes being on the other end of an aggressive interaction. Whether networking in person or online, there's etiquette worth considering. Most often, networking translates to making a first impression and bad ones can turn into deal breakers down the road. Make an effort to approach people how you'd like to be approached. When face-to-face, try to actively and considerately listen, rather than simply waiting for an opportunity to pitch your message. In an online environment, like LinkedIn, be confident and passionate about your business but genuine. People can sense inauthenticity even from behind a computer. Definitely be creative and most importantly, have patience. Remember, you're in the majority -- the individuals you connect with are most likely in the same boat for their endeavor. If you don't put them on the defense or leave them feeling uncomfortable, you've avoided that shark mentality.
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Written by: Adam Koncius, Koncius Digital Marketing