5 Ways to Network Your Business

By all accounts, Visual Connections, the PACA Conference, PhotoPlus and all related events were a smashing success. You are back at work, digesting all the info, new contacts and ideas gleaned from the events and maybe a little exhausted. Time to remind ourselves about followup networking. This guest post by Blake Pappas gives some valuable tips.

Small businesses today face the challenge of having to accelerate their growth and satisfy their existing customers without the large amount of resources that bigger firms have at their disposal. Luckily, if you are a small business owner there are several things that you can do in order to benefit from modern networking techniques. Following these five tips can lead to an increased amount of business opportunities and a more widespread presence for your organization.

Leverage Social Media

Simply having a Facebook or LinkedIn company page is not enough to succeed. In order to excel at social media networking, Emily Wight at The Guardian suggests that companies focus their social media efforts on their target market and then use these social media networks to set up meetings with prospective clients. Also be sure to offer engaging content for fans and followers. Social media networking gives your company a global reach, even if you only operate in one particular city or state.

Actively Attend Trade Shows and Events

While it’s important that you or someone at your organization goes to events that are attended by prospective customers in your industry, you have to do more than just show up to these gatherings. Be prepared with an elevator speech that can help people understand the difference between your firm and others in your industry. Ensure that you talk to as many people as possible, even if you are not certain that they can help your business: you never know where your next reference that leads to a huge deal might come from. Conversely, focus your networking activities on those that you know can help the most: do not waste time at these events simply talking to those that you have a personal connection with.

Follow Up

It may seem like a simple task, but there are many business professionals that do not bother getting back in touch with people that they meet, both online and offline. Even a simple e-mail with just a few sentences in it is enough to let people know that you are still thinking about them. When you follow up with prospects or old customers, you may find new opportunities that you would not have uncovered if you had not reached out to that particular buyer.

Separate Yourself From the Crowd

In today’s business world, everyone is focused on networking so that they can find opportunities. It is very possible that the huge prospect that you are courting at an industry event or party has been through several interactions with others in your field. To give yourself a better chance of winning business when you network with prospective customers, think about your company’s advantage over others in your field. Come up with a way to articulate these differences in a concise and interesting way and you will find more success with your networking. Also consider putting a personal touch on your networking correspondence, such as using hand-written notes to show people that they are important enough for you to take the time to write them a note or card.

Aim to Help Others

It can be tough to be selfless in today’s “me-first” world where business is as competitive as ever and companies are folding every day. However, genuinely attempting to help people within reason can pay dividends down the road, especially if the person or company you are helping understands the value of a favor or karma. When you assist others in achieving their goals, you will often find many that will do the same for you.

Networking is a challenge for even highly savvy business professionals. Today’s marketing landscape is more complicated than ever thanks to digital media and the ever-increasing pace of the business world. With these networking tips and the helpful advice from someone who has a degree in organizational leadership, you can help your business get on the right track towards successfully building relationships to improve sales over the long term.

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