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Small Business Networking

Small Business Networking
A small but strong network of professionals can help build the foundation of a solid small business idea. How do you go about networking to meet the right people? Here are some tips and ideas on small business networking that will help you out.
Puja Lalwani
Starting up any business first requires a customer base. What is it that you are going to sell? Every business sells something, be it a product or a service. Either way, you need that audience that is going to make your business the huge success it is meant to be. Targeting that audience and convincing them to be your client in whatever manner requires you to adhere to some very important networking tips for small businesses. In effect, no business is too small to work without the help of other professionals. Assuming that you can single-handedly survive in your small business is not feasible. You need a network of people who will make your business more efficient so that you can deliver results.
How to Network for your Business
The thumb rule of networking revolves around developing a trustworthy business relationship at the end of it all. Following up on referrals and delivering what you have promised will ensure that your networking endeavors are truly rewarded. So here are a few tips from around the business world to help you network and make your business a success.
Know Your Business Well
Have a thorough understanding of what the goal of your business is, so that when you meet people, you can explain it to them thoroughly. Knowledge of your business also makes you more confident and enables people to have faith in you. Be prepared for all sorts of questions that will be posed regarding the feasibility and all other aspects of your business. It is only then that people will know that you are a serious entrepreneur who has thought things through, and not someone who just had a fleeting business idea and is out to implement it without considering its potential.
Prepare Business Cards
Business cards are the first mark of professionalism. They show that you have already established yourself as an entrepreneur and are serious about making your business work. Have a simple but professional business card that you can give out at various networking events, or generally to those who you think may need to contact you in the near future. However, just giving business cards is not enough. You have to supplement the process by having a meaningful conversation with the person regarding your business, understanding what that professional's business revolves around, and how you can collaborate to make a difference to both businesses.
Start with People you Know
Start spreading the word among your peers, colleagues, and others who know you well. These are the people who can actually spread the word for you. In fact, involve those who are willing to join you so that your circle of influence expands and you are able to reach out to more people.
Go Where the Crowd Is
Recognize your potential contacts and network, and make sure you are present wherever your audience is. Be it at an expo, a restaurant, or the general Internet user; ensure that you are around to introduce yourself. When you do communicate with them, exude confidence and passion. Use language that you know will engage the listener rather than using simple, boring language. When introducing your business, speak of the concept behind it before you actually talk about what you do. This will help explain your business idea better and develop the necessary contacts to build your business. Even if you develop a few good contacts, it is likely to be of great help to start off with.
Help Others in the Process too
In the process of networking if you get the opportunity to connect two individuals who may benefit from knowing each other in the business world, use it. There is no harm in doing so. In fact you are remembered, and should you need any help in the future, you can count on these individuals to help you out. Your job is not only to receive referrals; it is to give them out too, whenever required. That is the true nature of networking.
Use the Power of Social Networking
Social networking is a boon to small business owners who can easily market their businesses online. One link to your website (it is a good idea to have one) regularly will spread the word and have people know you well. Update your website regularly, ensure that it is well-optimized so that people are directed to you, and keep posting updates on your social networking account. Join forums of like-minded people, where you can exchange ideas and concepts. Not only will you find people who will help you advance your business, you are also likely to meet prospective customers through this method. Also ensure that your website is user-friendly and not difficult to navigate around.
Once again, the idea of networking does not only revolve around spreading the word about your business. The idea is to develop a trustful bond within your network. It is only when you are trustworthy that you will be recommended in the future to others. If you have empty chats with people and pass around your business card just so that people know you exist, it is unlikely to yield any results. Once you understand what you have set out to do by networking, the aforementioned tips will help you move ahead. Good luck with your business plan!
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