Business and Social Networking
Networking is the process of establishing relationships with other business people and potential clients. The purpose of business networking is to increase business revenue.
The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas, and support.
Networking is an essential skill for business people, but especially for business owners. The strong association between the entrepreneur as a person and his or her business demands create and maintain business relationships. There are many ways to network your business.
The business owner can meet and greet by attending local functions such as:
1. The Chamber of Commerce.
2. Community groups and organizations that bring business people together.
3. Volunteer for local charities and committees that will frequent events in which potential clients might attend. Sponsor a local baseball/softball team. Make your name and face known to your community.
Take advantage of the electronic world and use the online sources readily available to build your business pipeline:
1. Research your industry thoroughly and present yourself as an expert within your industry.
2. Place your business name/logo and website in every email correspondence you have with potential clients.
3. Take a leadership role and write a blog. Encourage like-minded people to become part of your business world.
Try social networking:
1. Word of mouth. Customers will generally ask for referrals from friends and family for information on competent businesses. Make certain that your customers know that you are ready to increase your customer base.
2. Associate yourself with non-profit organizations. Customers are more likely to frequent a business that believes in a cause – rather than one that is strictly all business.
3. Attend holiday parties with business associates. This can be a great way to make a strong first impression with future business clients without having to be too pushy and aggressive.
4. A common networking mistake made by many business people is believing that networking can be turned on and off and is used only during specific functions. Networks are generally not very receptive to intrusive marketing messages from new business owners.
Social media outlets:
1. Facebook. Most businesses have a Facebook page. This allows consumers and clients to keep abreast of your company updates and industry news. Invite current clients/customers to “like” your page and increase your fan base.
2. Google +. Google is another great way to boost search engine optimization. There are many business contacts that use more of the business avenues compared to Facebook which can be for business or personal use.
3. Twitter. Send an occasional tweet to gain “followers”.
4. Linkedin. Linkedin is the world’s largest professional network. Linkedin is a great way to build and engage with your professional network. Being part of LinkedIn can also allow access to knowledge of certain industries, insights and opportunities available for your business.
Networking does not have to be costly. As a matter of fact, most networking outlets are free to use just time consuming since it is something that has to be updated on a regular basis.
The final thought on networking is strategic planning. As in any successful business, there is always a well thought out plan in place before execution.
Remember that networking is not just about lead generation and sales’; networking is focusing on the business relationship. Create value by interacting with people and it will come back to you in long-term sales and business relationships to give you the ultimate business success.