It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. We’ve all heard that and never is that more true than for a small business working to sustain their business and grow into the future.
The right group of people can help find partnership opportunities that will scale your business and expand your reach, help you find new sources of funding, and connect you with others who you can work with to build future products or services. But more importantly, it’s what you can do for them. Starting with generosity will make your networking activities valuable to everyone. And that’s what real networking is. So get out there with these networking tips.
Never Eat Alone
The essence of super networker, Keith Ferrazzi’s best-selling book is to never eating alone. Every breakfast, every lunch, every dinner is an opportunity to deepen existing relationships that can lead to things you can’t imagine you need right now.
Go through your contacts and find five people with whom you want to connect with more from a business perspective. Then, ask them for lunch and use the time to really figure out what they’re passionate about and if you can help them overcome their challenges. When the time comes, they’ll do the same for you. Eventually get to the point where every time you sit down to eat, you’re also feeding your network.
LinkedIn isn’t just an online placeholder for your CV or where you market your wares. It’s also a powerful networking forum for your small business. If you haven’t already, take 15 minutes today to find three LinkedIn groups with professionals with whom you relate – either in your industry, field or in the industry of your clients. Then, look where you can add value by commenting on specific posts, or sharing some of your own insights.
Don’t ask questions until you’ve added some value to the group. After all, successful networking starts with generosity and giving before you can expect to receive.
Bring People Together
Few things are as powerful as someone who can connect others. If you introduce two people, their entire relationship will start with, “remember when Dave/Susan introduced us. Now look at us!”
Start connecting others by hosting a cocktail hour for your business contacts and ask that they bring one new person to the group to facilitate further connections. Ask a local insurance agent or small business lawyer to cover some or all of the bar tab and all you have to do is show up.
Never is networking online and in person more valuable for a small business than now. With the right support group, you create the support structure you and your small business need to thrive in today’s market.
Want to learn more? Join us for our free webinar, How To Use Offline and Online Networking to Grow Your Business, or visit our website and search our archives to catch up.