Does your network add power to your small business? Does it help you to distinguish yourself from your competitors? Does this increase your visibility? Does this add to your results?
If you answered yes to each question, congratulations. If no, could it?
An effective network can:
- let people know you're in business
- keep customers informed of your activity and the changes you make.
- help homeowners find answers to questions and new resources
- find mentors and guides
- provide a system for early warning of upcoming changes that could affect your business.
Research suggests that networking is one of the most effective marketing tools because it has little cost, apart from the time, and offers one of the best returns on investment.
However, research also shows that most of the networks we build are not very efficient.
First of all, we do not have a plan explaining why we are networking. And our plan does not define who we should network with. We tend to choose often those who are already in our circles. And while these people may not know everything about you and your business, they are not completely unaware of your existence either.
When we network, we also tend to forget some important rules such as: decide what you want to get from each event before entering the room; Arrive early (your best contacts will usually come in the first 30 minutes of an event); be a guest (meet people and introduce them to others) and it's not just about who can collect the most business cards.
Then there is the follow up after the event. If you made promises, hold them. It is also important that you simply get back in touch with the people you've met and see as a resource for you and your business.
Also, criticize your networking. What has worked, what has not worked and what questions or information do you still need from a contact you have made?
An effective network means you have to give as well as receive. It also means follow-ups and relationship building over time. Networking is rarely profitable in the short term.
And finally, stand near the food. The food attracts people and you want to be in the traffic. As long as your business is not on the tip of the tongue, no one will look for you.
This does not mean that you can not talk with friends and people you know at an event. Just practice not going into these conversations immediately. Give yourself these 30 to 60 minutes in gold first.
An effective network is an excellent marketing tool. This can have a significant impact on your company's growth curve. Take the time, do it right and make it work for you.
About Glenn Muske
Glenn Muske is an independent expert in rural small business, working for GM Consulting – Your Partner for Small Business Success. He provides advice and writes articles for county extension officers and newspapers in North Dakota. Previously, he was a specialist in rural and agri-food business development at the Extension Service of the North Dakota State University – Center for Community Vitality.
- Does your network have punch? – 7 November 2018
- Building the community business sector of tomorrow – October 24, 2018
- Are you changing? – 17 October 2018
- Is this really a deal? – October 10, 2018
- Prepare your finances to start a business – 3 October 2018
- Business Creation: Separate Fiction and Reality – September 19, 2018
- Build trust to build your business – September 12, 2018
- I can not manage success – September 5, 2018
- Your small business needs an online presence – August 29, 2018
- What is your purpose – August 22, 2018