Small Business Networking
Small Business Networking

Small Business Networking Tips

Small Business NetworkingSmall business networking should be a very important part of your home based business. It is easy and fun to do and can become second nature if you follow these simple networking tips.

They are easy ideas to remember and implement not only in your home based business environment but also in your personal life as well.

You will use these techniques quite easily once you get used to them. When you learn how small business networking is done you will be able to increase your home based business influence and revenue substantially. See my article; Fun and Easy Business Networking Places, to get some ideas of where you can start.

Some Networking Tips:

  • Set Objectives
  • Use Business Cards
  • Take Notes
  • Be Yourself
  • Help Each Other
  • Stay in Contact
  • Grow the Relationship
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Set Objectives

Before attending a small business networking event such as the chamber of commerce meeting or trade show set clear objectives. Is your objective to get a new supplier, an employee, more funding or to sell your products or services? Are you looking for a qualified professional to work with?

Write these objectives down so that you will be able to focus on what your most wanted outcome is. Some questions that I ask before an event are: Who do I want to meet? Why do I want to meet them? Will there be enough of these people at the event?

With your key objectives in mind you will be able to make the best use of your time while you are attending the event. You will know the people you want to meet and be able to start building a strong relationship for your home based business.

After the first event, you can continue to use this objective planning strategy to find events that will allow you to meet more of your desired small business networking contacts.

Use Business Cards

A simple small business networking tool is to carry business cards with you at all times. Whether or not you are attending an event, you should never leave your home based business without them.

There are always excellent opportunities to hand out your business card and it is such an easy and inexpensive way to market your home based business. People are always receptive to your business card when it is given in the right atmosphere.

Take Notes

It is very important to remember the people you meet and the conversations that transpired. I take mental notes but as soon as I get a chance I write them down on a notepad that I carry with me. If the person handed you a business card you can jot down some of the notes there first. Then transpose them to your PDA, Business Planner, Notebook or Computer Database. There are even digital business card scanners.

Taking notes will help you remember your conversations and have information available when you follow up. Get as much information as possible about personal and business information such as birthdays, anniversaries, business interests and hobbies.

All of this information will help you to build strong relationships with people. It will also show them that you were paying attention to the conversation. Check out my article; You Said What? - Ways to Create Effective Listening Skills for some great information that will help you with your small business networking skills.

Be Yourself

In small business networking your attitude and persona can have a huge impact on how effective you efforts will be. Be sincere and keep the conversation at a low pitch by not trying to oversell your products or services. Remember, they don’t know you yet!

As you continue build your relationship you will be able to find the win-win situation that I talk about in my article; Creating Effective Business Communication Skills.

Once you have a strong relationship you will be in a better position to ask for their help or to be able to offer your help in their business or business networking.

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Help Each Other

Once you have started a relationship with people listen to their needs. Is there something that you can offer to help them with? There may be a person that you know that you could introduce them to. What about sharing home based business resources such as an attorney or marketing firm? Small business networking begins with you offering your help, then others are more receptive to giving you their help.

Stay in Contact

Once you have met a business contact it is important to follow up and stay in contact with them. Follow up is the back bone of building a strong small business network. Try to stay in contact as soon as possible after meeting them. The next day would be the best since you are still fresh in their minds.

There are various ways to stay in contact and follow up. Some people may prefer the e-mail approach while a simple phone call may be more effective. You usually don’t have to say more then; “Hi, it was nice to meet you yesterday”. If they had offered a referral thank them (of course after you spoke to the referral).

This might be a good time to send them the information you had spoken about, possibly send them a link to a news article or product that you may have talked about.  Also if you had referred them to someone or suggested something you should always follow up so that they will know that you care and are interested in them.

Grow the Relationship

This is the simplest and most fun part small business networking. It will be up to you to continue to contact and grow the relationship. Business networks will thrive if you continue to foster the relationship. Some easy ways could be an invitation to breakfast, lunch, dinner, events or special occasions. A quick phone call or e-mail that has relevance to the relationship can work wonders.

When you stay in contact by reaching out to maintain and grow a relationship, the other person will realize just how sincere and valuable your relationship with them is. It is up to you to foster the relationships.

Final Thought:

Small business networking is invaluable to your home based business success. You will create great long term relationships that will keep expanding. A great network is one that is alive and growing daily. Business networking really is easy once you follow these networking tips. Of course they work great for your personal use as well as professional.

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