Networking is a great way to gain new clients and contacts. You can create beneficial business relationships that help you learn, grow, and succeed. As a small business owner, you need to know how to grow your network.
7 small business networking tips
Building a strong small business network is crucial for a successful company. To start improving your skills, follow these seven business networking tips.
1. Have a strategy
For many small business owners, networking is enjoyable. But, building your business network is not all fun and games. Approach networking in business with a strategy that helps you reach your goals.
When creating a plan, figure out why you want to network. Are you trying to gain new contacts? Maybe you want to work on career development and learn from business advisers in your industry. You could network to become a thought leader and position yourself as an expert. Or, you might try to be a better leader and motivate your team.
Whatever the reason for networking, set goals to aim for and estimate the number of contacts you will need. Then, identify the kinds of people you need to meet. Review your networking efforts to see what strategies worked best.
2. Write an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch gives the people you meet a quick look at your business. It is a simple but powerful tool if used effectively. Include the following information in your pitch:
- Who you are
- What you do
- The problem you solve
- Who you serve
- What makes you different
- What you want to happen next
Use your elevator pitch for a concise and memorable way to explain your business. When presenting a pitch, you want to be comfortable. Practice the elevator pitch so that it sounds natural. And, make sure the pitch reflects your brand.
3. Be a good listener
When it comes to networking for small business owners, you need to hear what other people are saying. Your peers and potential clients offer insights that help you make business decisions. Show that you’re interested in conversations, and be a good listener.
During networking opportunities, listen more than you speak. Ask open-ended questions rather than ones that require “yes” or “no” answers. After each conversation, make notes about what you talked about.
4. Create lasting impressions
Good first impressions are an important part of networking for business owners. So are good second impressions, and third impressions, and so on. Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or you’ve known them for 15 years, be courteous and professional.
Be personable when meeting your connections. Even though you’re in a business setting, don’t be afraid to be warm and engaging. Tell a personal story when it’s relevant. Your network should be built on people you want to work with and people who want to work with you.
5. Get involved
Small business owners have the advantage of creating connections within their neighborhoods. A strong network of businesses within a community creates a healthy local economy. You can be a part of your community to help your business and others succeed.