Photo: Innovation Union
The biggest asset you have as a small business owner is your ability to connect and build solid relationships. Remember that people buy from people they know, like, and trust!
1. Don’t Leave Networking to Chance: Business is a contact sport so set aside some time weekly to get out in to your community, meet people, and build relationships. Some good places to start are your local chamber of commerce, rotary, or other groups that meet on a regular basis. There are also formal business referral groups such as BNI that meet for the sole purpose of exchanging referrals and closing business.
2. Make Your Expert Voice Heard: During these functions keep an eye out for speaking opportunities. There is no better way to leverage your time and talents, and to be perceived as an expert, than to speak to a large audience. Everyone loves to hear about travel destinations or get tips on maximizing their holiday experiences. Check to see if your city has a local Toastmasters chapter. Toastmasters is an organization that specializes in helping its members to hone the craft of public speaking.
3. Build Your Sphere of Influence: During your networking activities be on the lookout for influencers. An influencer is a person who seems to know everyone and is often the center of attention. When you build trust with influencers they can connect you to people and help you build your network faster.
4. Link In and Link Out: I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. I have personally seen my clients benefit by having a strong LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn allows you to connect and build relationships with business professionals. With LinkedIn it’s all about growing your connections and developing a personal brand. Develop a strategy to move your connections through your pipeline to eventually close a sale.
5. Track Your Weekly Progress: Make sure you are taking full advantage of your networking activities. Find someone to hold you accountable for taking consistent action toward your networking goals. It’s so easy to take your foot off the accelerator as things get hectic. Remember that consistency is a key factor in building relationships. It takes time for people to get to know you, like you, and trust you.
John Stahl is an Executive Coach and lives in Albany, New York. John works with clients face to face, by phone or Skype to grow their businesses. You are welcome to schedule a free 30 minute business strategy phone session with John here. You can contact John at 607-760-6658 or visit his website.