Networking is not just asking for business, it is developing a long term relationship with another person. Relationships with other businesses is one of the most important dimensions in small business development and operations. Connections with other business professionals provide you insight to the most current and efficient practices in your line of work. In addition, a well developed local business network will also be the source for leads, referrals and partnerships that will only enhance your business and your community. A strong professional network is critical for any business.

As a business professional, you should choose the networking atmosphere that matches you and your work personality. People with extroverted personalities may enjoy the bustling Chamber of Commerce networking events, where more introverted personalities may enjoy a one-on-one meeting over coffee. Whatever method you choose will start a business relationship that could impact your business operations, a future employment opportunity or professional development.

Here are a few tips about networking;

1. Be consistent in your professional presence

In the age of social media, networking has seemed to explode. Platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, enable multiple opportunities to create connections with other business professionals. You are likely involved with multiple platforms to promote and market your business. It is important to have a consistent messaging throughout your platforms so you can establish an authentic vision of you professional presence. When your network begins to refer you to potential clients, you will have the best representation of yourself in your online presence.

2. Listen and Engage

While networking is important to promote yourself and your business interests, your primary goal should be to create an authentic connection with the other person. By showing genuine interest in a person and engaging with their business challenges, the relationship will more likely yield a referral or a return in business. In addition, you will develop a trusted connection that could benefit your business needs in the future. Authenticity will always create a foundation of a sustainable and beneficial relationship.

3. Don’t be afraid to network outside of your immediate business sphere.

At networking events we frequently fall into the same sphere of conversations because it comfortable to be around those we trust. Nurturing existing relationships is critical for our business sustainability but creating new connections can help lead you down the path of business growth. Even though there may not be a direct connection within your industry, there are foundational business skills that are necessary in any business environment. Topics like payroll, marketing, customer relations strategies and client communication are critical to any business operation. A connection outside of your directly connected business network could expose you to a more efficient, productive and profitable idea that may change your business.

An authentic connection within your network will only benefit your business. You will develop a trusted relationship and set the stage for future business. It is important to be an active part of your business community to help growth and scale of your company.

I help small businesses discover strategies to develop a strong foundation in your business and to prepare for growth and scale. Contact me to create a custom strategy for growth.