When my husband and I first started our business over ten years ago, we knew nothing about “Networking”. We had never even heard of it. To us networking was connecting a bunch of computers together so they could talk to each other. Little did we know that Business Networking worked exactly the same way!
Business Networking is when a group of business owners and/or their representatives get together to introduce themselves and find out about each other. It is a great way to meet others who are also trying to grow their business.
- Join a Chamber Committee: Chambers usually have committees that work together to build community relationships. The committees are a great way to meet other chamber members and give back to your community. Most chamber committees are very active in charitable and family entertainment throughout your community. This is a great way to get your name and brand recognized and to show the community that you care about your home town. Find out about the different committees available and attend a few of their meetings to find out which committee would work best for you.
- Attend Networking Events: Chambers hold many networking events to help introduce businesses to each other. Ribbon Cuttings, Business Card Exchanges and After Hours Mixers are a wonderful way to get to know each other and build relationships. These events are a great form of free Take advantage.
- Have a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: When you become a member of the Chamber, you are usually entitled to a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to announce that you are here and open for business. It is held at your place of business, and members come by to welcome you to the community. But, do not take for granted that just because you have a ribbon cutting ceremony everyone will come. The Chamber will usually post the information on their website bulletin board, but not everyone checks the site on a regular basis. You need to spread the word yourself. Send out personal invitations to all of your contacts inviting them to attend. Post the event on your social network, i.e., twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Exchange Information with Others: Your best source for finding out about other networking events is through people you meet at networking events. When talking to other attendees, find out if they know of any other networking events that they would recommend. You will be surprised to find out how many networking opportunities are out there.
There is more to networking than just going to events and exchanging business cards. There is such a thing as networking etiquette. I know that sounds strange, but there is a correct way to network and an incorrect way to network. And you don’t want to get “blacklisted” because you did it wrong. Trust me, I have seen it happen. Below are a few tips to make the most of the experience:
- Use the buddy system. If you were told about an event from another networker, make arrangements to meet them there. Ask them to introduce you around. It is much easier to be introduced by someone else, than to try to introduce yourself to a group of strangers. If it is your very first event, ask the greeter if they can spare a few minutes to introduce you. If they can’t leave their post, they will find someone to help you out.
- Don’t be pushy: The worst thing you can do is walk up to a networker and immediately hand them your business card and start talking about what you and your business can do for them. Be patient and let it come naturally.
- Keep your business cards in your pocket or purse.
- Introduce yourself and strike up a conversation.
- Find out about them before talking about yourself.
- After you have had a nice conversation with them, ask them for their card.
- After you get their card, ask them if they want one of yours.
- Build Relationships: The purpose of business networking is to build relationships. When you attend an event, don’t just introduce yourself and tell them about your business. Get to know them. Enjoy the events, make friends.
- Don’t Give Up! One of the biggest mistakes you can make with networking is giving up too soon. It takes meeting someone between seven (7) to nine (9) times before they will remember your face. Don’t just go to just one or two events and think, “I didn’t get anything out of it”. Networking isn’t about you getting fellow networkers to use your services. It is about getting to know each other. If they don’t trust you they will not recommend you. And vice versa. Build your relationships and keep going to events.
Desert Rose Marketing provides expert, professional and affordable web design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, graphic design and custom form creation for small businesses to mid-size businesses. We are located in Harrison, Tennessee, just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee.