When you own your own business, people constantly associate you with what you do. For better or for worse, this makes almost any interaction in public an opportunity for you to network for your business.
Afraid of networking? You’re not alone. Take these four steps to make networking a lot less scary and a lot more enjoyable.
Be prepared to tell your story: Ever hear of an elevator pitch? It’s a quick way of saying what your business does in the average time you’d be in an elevator. Perfect it. But don’t stop there. Often, small business owners get asked for their story. Be able to explain why you got into your business and what it is that you’re passionate about. Hint: This is what really draws people in.
Connect your offline to online: No, this doesn’t mean you should send friend requests to complete strangers on Facebook or connect with people you’ve never known on LinkedIn. What you should do is connect with your circles you have offline with the ones you have online. For instance, have you served on a board of directors before? You should add your fellow board members on LinkedIn. Ever taken a continuing education class? Forward an email about the class topic to one of your classmates – a quick and professional way of saying “hello.”
Be selective: Business owners tend to receive a lot of requests to attend fundraisers, benefits, or community events. Be selective in the ones you attend and think of the public relations benefit of the ones you do choose. Then, mix around. Don’t get stuck talking to the same person or only the recent grad who’s begging for a job. This is your opportunity to widen your circle.
Pair up: Find another business owner in the community who can help you to network. If a networking group doesn’t exist in your community, start one. Promise to share referrals or to make a point to introduce each other to new people. Hint: Selecting someone in your same office building makes sense. You can walk potential clients to each other’s offices for a brief introduction.
Selected from Sunbelt’s blog for our visitors.