Networking is important to small businesses in that it helps them to stay in business, grow their business, and connect to other business owners. The general way to network is usually by having your information on a neat business card and give your information to others. To create a big name for yourself when networking, you need to step out of your comfort zone and create a buzz. Here are few ideas.
Professional Business Cards
Yes, business cards are important for networking so they can have your contact information. No, they should not be the only thing that you do. For starters, make sure your business cards are professional. Have an edgy design on quality paper with all your contact information. Business cards should be kept in a safe place to avoid tearing and ripping. You might also want to consider adding your Twitter ID and Facebook profile to your card as a way for people to keep up with you in more of the real-time business world.
Q & A's
Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your business. This is a given for any professional at any time, but even more important for networking. You can explain your business, your goals, and your purpose for going into business. If you've hit any rough spots, share them with others willing to network with you. We've all had our ups and downs. Talk about how you overcame your problems, ask them about theirs and share advice. There's strength in collaboration.
Additionally, be ready with questions to ask others who want to network with you. Regardless of what questions they ask you, make sure you ask meaningful questions to foster a relationship. Ask them about what they want most out of networking with other businesses. Find out their goals, ambitions, and business history.
Know Your Story
Your the story of how your business came to exist. Many people who are looking to network with you are interested in how your business started, your goals, and motivation. This is not your thirty second elevator pitch, but rather a heartfelt, honest story about your business. Briefly discuss the journey your business took from start to where you are today.
Don't Be Afraid of the Big Shots
Reaching for the stars to network is something that many small business owners are hesitant to try. You never know where you'll end up without first trying. If you're on Twitter first reach out to some small business professionals, subscribe to their blog, or follow their work. Send a personal message to these business professionals describing how they inspire and motivate you and your business. See if you receive a response, keep the contact to receive advice or guidance in the future. Build the relationship, don't market it.
Remember, the goal of networking is not to be a salesperson for yourself and your business. That's just plain annoying, and many will toss your information in the garbage. People who want to create real relationships via networking will know if you are being genuine and not just wanting to use them as a stepping stone. Be the balance on the stones and you'll be the one that people turn to in the future. That's the real point to business networking: be the one who's out there helping and you'll be the one they come back to again and again.