Networking has always been an integral part of my professional life and since setting up my very own Business, The Gift Girl, it became the lifeblood of everything I do. Without networking and building relationships – many businesses barely survive let alone get off the ground.
This blog aims to give you hints and tips on how to grow your business through networking with just a few simple steps.
Expand your network
This is the most important step. Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. Research networking groups in your area and attend, most groups these days even let you visit for free for the first time. If time is one of your concerns when it comes to networking, why not find a group that meets online, that way you can save time (and money) travelling to and from a venue.
Networking can just be seen as a professional activity that involves formalities to many but that’s not always the case, joining a local club doing your favourite hobby can be a great way to network and tell people about your business. By networking in this way you know you’re surrounded by like-minded people which will make it much easier to build relationships.
Social media is gold!
Make sure you are active on at least one social media platform. Depending on your business, you can determine which platform is best for you - think about where your customers ‘hang out’ the most. I do, however, recommend that you should have a presence on LinkedIn in the form of a personal profile. LinkedIn is like the facebook for business and often people like to have a little ‘stalk’ to see who they are doing business with (guilty, I know I do this).
Fill your profile with information about your career background, get a few endorsements and recommendations, set a friendly profile photo, an engaging banner photo and you’re good to go! Whichever social platform you choose to predominantly advertise your business on, ensure you’re as active as you can be, engage with your audience through messages, polls and comments. By connecting with people online you are enabling connections to people who would otherwise have been inaccessible to you and you to them. You never know which connection can turn into a huge opportunity!
Use your time wisely
It goes without saying we need to be aware of how we spend our time because as entrepreneurs our time is very valuable, especially in the early days - when you’re a marketer, accountant and salesperson all rolled into one. But, I cannot stress enough the importance of making time in your diary to network. This should at least be once a week, in person or online as part of a group, in addition to over social media.
Make sure you assess all networking opportunities appropriately by asking yourself the following two questions beforehand. What is your goal for attending? Who is going to be there that can help me? Once you have made the decision to attend, the next step is to prepare. Get your elevator pitch ready, a Network Like You Mean It Planner and Diary in hand and dress to impress.
Get out of your comfort zone
During the dreaded lockdown, we were all faced with zoom fatigue, as everything was carried out over zoom, networking online became the new norm. In fact, I would go as far to say networking happened EVEN more than prior to the pandemic and I believe it’s because it gave people the opportunity to, dare I say it, ‘hide’ behind a screen. Of course I completely appreciate that networking comes more easily to some than others, being an extrovert I actually enjoy it but for those introverts out there it can be a very scary prospect.
To be good at networking and for it to work for you and your business, whether you like it or not, there are going to be times when you have to push yourself to do something you don’t feel comfortable with, whether that’s attending an in-person event and entering a room not knowing ANYONE, facilitating a networking group online, or pitching your business to your dream client. Yes, I have admitted I am an extrovert but even just the thought of pitching my business to my dream client makes my stomach churn with nerves. I know it’s easier said than done but as they say great things never come from comfort zones. Be confident in yourself and your business and the rest will fall into place.
I hope this blog makes you get out there and show em’ what you got!