How many times have you heard other Entrepreneurs talk about networking? It could be an event they attended last night, last week, online, offline…..it’s exhausting just listening to others discuss the topic, let alone doing it for your own Business! When it comes to marketing your Business, there is no one magical key that will make it work, you have to do a little bit of everything, including networking.
Everyone networks and sometimes, they don’t even know it. What exactly is networking, well there are tons of definitions and most of them are customized to sell someone’s product or service as it relates to networking.
But the plain definition is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or Business according to Webster’s Dictionary.
The keyword in that definition is productive, meaning it's working for both parties. That’s what this column will cover over the next few months. Some items you need to have in check before you start networking are:
What are your goals for networking, other than gaining more customers? Think about the other things you need in your Business, strategic partners, other services you need, when you have a need, you become a referral for someone else. How often do you want to network and how much time do you have. Like anything else worthwhile, this process takes time.
What do you want others to know about your Business? When you are asking for referrals, your needs will change as your Business progresses, so painting a picture for others to see is crucial to getting quality referrals. Keeping it fun and fresh.
How You Plan to Build Relationships
Networking in a sense is helping others so listening is key to networking. Asking questions is the key to the networking kingdom, the more questions you ask of others, the better you will be able to help them and vice versa.
Where You Plan to Network
Chamber events, trade shows, women-only, most cities you can find events to attend for breakfast, lunch and after hours. Keep your networking efforts under control and yield the best results by creating a networking calendar.
"The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work." -- Robert Kiyosaki
Integrating Networking Into Your Daily Life
Becoming a master connector will not only help others you do Business with but it will help you. Again, your needs are a referral for someone else, just like someone else’s need may be a referral for you.
Like any other marketing activity, you need to monitor your results. Make changes if necessary and always look to improve your results.
Being stared at by strangers is something I have become very accustomed to. Not because I am a beautiful, ethereal being that catches everyone's attention (but I will take it if that's what you're thinking), but in the way that I am a Black woman, a Black person, and people tend to notice my presence. I don't think there is a Black person out there that can deny knowing what it's like to be stared at by a random person.