Networking Tips to Grow Your Business
Recently I was asked about the effectiveness of networking to grow your business. I’ll share some ideas on how this will work for you, both online and offline.
First, take a close look at what is referred to as your “circle of influence”. These are the people you are connected with, whether on the internet or in person, who know exactly what type of business you are involved in and how you serve others with your knowledge and experience. Hopefully you have done a good job of cultivating these contacts since you started your business, but if you’re making a list and still attempting to write down more than a dozen names or so this is an area you can definitely improve upon.
Many years ago when I was working in real estate I was amazed at the people who received referrals regularly from their circle of influence. Even if they had not seen each other in years, these people were quite loyal in doing business with someone who had stayed in touch over the years. At the time I did not understand this strategy, but over time I saw that this was an excellent way to grow and sustain a successful and lucrative business.
Make a plan for what you can do every day to add more people to the list of those who will see you as an expert in your field and a trusted adviser to them and to their connections. This can be done in a variety of ways, and here are some ideas:
- Attend a local networking meeting in your city regularly
- Join a service organization and get involved in projects
- Make sure your social media profiles mention your business
- Choose a charity that resonates with you and volunteer
- Reach out to people in your neighborhood to let them know what you do
- Attend or start your own Meetup group to share your expertise
Everything I have mentioned here is free of cost, but you may want to set up a budget for your networking efforts. Thirty second spots on local radio can be very worthwhile, as well as having a table or booth at local events where you can give out cards and collect names. These might include pet fairs, holiday boutiques, and other weekend events where large groups of people are likely to attend and be open to learning more about you and what you have to offer.
Subscribe to and read your local newspapers and magazines to find out what is coming up in your area. Even if it sounds like only a remote possibility of being able to connect with people who could become your prospects and clients, be open to doing it anyway. One of my clients set up a table at a pet adoption event and picked up more than a dozen clients this way.
Even though meeting people in person and looking them in the eye is preferable, remember that you can connect with exponentially more people through online venues. Some ideas for this include blogging, hosting and being a guest on podcasts and local radio shows, and writing articles, short reports, and books on your areas of knowledge and expertise. These will all give you almost instant celebrity status and increase both your credibility and visibility.
Use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to let the world know what you think about important topics related to your business. Over time this will make a huge difference in how you are perceived by others in your field, as well as by new prospects and current clients.
As you can see, this is all about putting yourself out there and getting out of your comfort zone. Have the willingness to challenge yourself to increase your circle of influence steadily over time for best results. Leadership skills can definitely be learned, and networking with people on a regular basis, both online and in person will help you to grow your business exponentially for years to come. What are some networking tips that have been effective for your business?