It goes without saying that communication plays a very important role in the success of any small business. Being an extrovert can go a long way to making your presence felt in the business market. Communication in the business world is known as networking.
Business demands that you deal with strangers on a day-to-day basis. These strangers are your prospective clients. However, networking does not simply mean trying hard to convince your customers to buy your products and services. To network successfully, you need to make as many contacts as you can – contacts who may or may not be able to help your business down the line. The point is to spread the word about your business; and the more contacts you make, the greater your chances of building an effective network and gaining new business through referrals.
Not all small business owners are skilled in the art of networking, but it pays to learn. Here are some tips that will help you improve your networking skills, and get you started if you haven’t already.
Introduce yourself: This may sound pretty silly and quite elementary. However, lots of business owners find it daunting to approach prospective clients to break the ice by greeting them. Doing this will not only make you feel comfortable with them, but it will also let them know that you are approachable. You have to be the first one to initiate the conversation. If you are at an event, always sit next to prospective clients instead of sitting next to your colleagues. It may be tempting, but avoid sitting next to people you already know. Your goal is to meet as many new people as possible.
Show interest: Perhaps the most important point of all is to always show interest in people. When someone is speaking, hear the person out and look interested. Never let your mind wander, no matter how boring you may find the conversations. Always remember the fact that the more you hear, the more they will listen to you.
Don’t avoid events: This is the last thing you want to do. There may be times when you are asked to deliver a speech at a seminar or other event. Although speaking in front of a group may seem easy, you should plan out what you are going to say. During your introduction, never say what you do professionally. Nobody’s interested in that. Start by saying what you are doing for your business, with the main tone expressing of how people can benefit from your business’ product and services.
Always Bring Business Cards: This is something that you should know to do already. Your business cards are an invaluable part of your networking arsenal. You don’t want to simply meet people; you want people to remember who you are – and to call on your business when they need your products and services. Giving someone your business card is an open invitation for them to call you, and makes it easier for them to do so.
In business, networking is a necessary activity that will pay off in the long run. The more people that you meet and expose to your business, the better your business’ chances of success.