Networking with the Right Network
You’re running your own small business and you’ve shown signs that you know what you’re doing. You have good contacts in the area that have helped you build your business. Are you networking with the right people? Some helpful tips for small business owners when it comes to networking:
- Joining Chamber of Commerce is a great first start. It shows other business owners you take what you do seriously as a real company. However, understand that you are not there to solicit them. You are there to help THEM!
- Getting involved with your local Rotary group will help you stay in tune with volunteer and community work in your town that your business can help support.
- Take time each week to make a point to stop by 2-3 other businesses in your area to introduce yourself. Simply stop in and say hello and let them know you’d be happy to take some of their brochures to place at your facility. These businesses should have a connection with you in some capacity. For example, I recommend to the sports facilities I work with to reach out to Nutritionists, other sports facilities, or physical therapists. These are the people that you can connect your clients with and more importantly they can connect their clients with you. Think about where your clients go to on a regular basis. Dentists, doctors, bagel shops! Networking with auto body shops, farmers markets, or eye doctors might not be the best use of your networking skills!
- Go into networking with the right mind set. Your goal isn’t simply to increase sales. Your goal is to make sure you use your business to help others and connect people that are like minded. If you do this your sales will increase simply by default.
- Be yourself and have a clear message you wish to convey when you tell people what you do. Practice a 30 second blurb on what you do and why you do it. This will be the most important 30 seconds you spend with someone because if you can’t convey what you do and why they’ll never want to work with you or connect you with their contacts.
- For some of my clients I have even recommended starting a networking group of their own. For instance, Sports Facilities Owners (my main focus) often times don’t have a network of people that understand their line of work. When issues come up or questions arise there aren’t too many professionals to turn to. Going to your attorney, accountant, or financial adviser isn’t going to be the most effective way to figure out if you should be running your holiday sports clinics during the right hours and for the right price. But if you have a few people in your circle of business owners that own other sports facilities then they would be fantastic people to bounce ideas off of. If there isn’t a group you can turn to then just start one!
Networking has taken on so many different definitions over the years. You’ll hear varying opinions for best practices and unique tips. Simply put networking is getting out of the business for a few hours a day to meet new people, engage in all types of conversations, and be a fixture in your community. Focus on that and your business will reap the rewards!