Networking Basics For Small Business Owners
From network marketing propaganda to pyramid schemes, “networking” cans sometimes have a bad reputation. But for small business owners, networking can provide a cost effective marketing & advertising channel that can (and usually does) lead to high quality deals.
Over the last several year, I have made networking a very large part of the marketing of my small business, Office Evolution Troy. I have been to large networking events, small networking events, fun networking events and fan-freaking-tastic networking events. At my busiest, I would attend 10-15 networking events a week and it is safe to say that I have learned a lot along the way!
Below are my best tips and tricks for finding high quality events, how to save as much money as possible and how to make an impact that will ultimately lead to business success.
Rule # 1: Networking Is NOT About Making Sales
Say what? You’re confused, right? That’s ok, most people are.
It’s counterintuitive but networking is not about making sales. Networking is about creating relationships. When you first enter the small business networking environment, no one knows you. They don’t know your name, what your business is and most of them won’t be referring business to you anytime soon. Much like any relationship, it takes time to foster business relationships and trust needs to be earned.
Networking is a long game, but it has the potential to curate high quality and recurring income for your business if you have the endurance to stick with it and nurture relationships in your community.
Rule # 2: Keep Showing Up
There is no such thing as a bad networking event. I have been to a lot of good networking events and I have also been to a lot of not as good networking events. But, as the fairytale goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get to the prince.
If you keep showing up, keep trying new and different networking opportunities, you will absolutely get more comfortable in the networking environment and other networkers will notice and REMEMBER you!
Rule #3: Share That Business Card!
In my networking experience, some people can be a bit shy about sharing their business card with others. It is vitally important for you to overcome this hesitation! At business networking events, the other person typically wants your business card. And the people that don’t really want your card will still politely accept it and throw it away when they leave your presence and that’s ok!
I make it a point to hand people my card immediately upon introducing myself because I want people to see my name written (just in case they didn’t hear it correctly) and my business logo (Brand awareness!). I also want people to have my phone number and email to make it that much easier for them to reach out to me if they want to learn more about my business or even buy something later!
Rule #4: Perfect Your 30 Second Sales Pitch
At any networking event, you have 1-2 minutes to make an impression and communicate who you are, what your business is and why people should think you are important or worth knowing. At many networking events, you will even be asked to give a 30 second commercial to the group as part of the introduction process.
Your 30 Second Sales Pitch should be composed of the following
- Your name and business name
- What you do for the company you are representing
- Describe what your company does in one (1) sentence
- Describe your ideal customer in 1-2 sentences
It might take you several tries to get this down so practice, practice, practice!
Rule # 5: It’s All About The Follow Up
So you met (or keep meeting) people at networking events, great! But now what? How are you supposed to foster that great relationship that will eventually lead to more sales? You follow up with the people that you like or think will know the kinds of people that are your ideal clientele.
Email, phone call, Facebook messenger, carrier pigeon, whatever your preferred method of communication, reach out and request a one on one meeting. For experienced networkers, the request for a follow up meeting is normal and usually welcome.
Overall, networking can be a rewarding, interesting and sometimes fun part of marketing your business. And just like anything, the more you do it and the more you practice, the better you will be at it!
More About Office Evolution Troy
Office Evolution Troy offers a full complement of private office, conference rooms, and virtual mail services. All memberships and hourly reservations include access to all of our business center amenities including:
- Staffed reception to greet your clients and guests
- Access to conference rooms to set up larger group meetings
- Complimentary coffee, tea, ice (the *good* ice) and water
- Wifi Credentials at CAT 6 Data Connection
- Secure Document Disposal
- Copy/ Print Services*
- Onsite Notary Services*
*Additional cost may apply
Give us a call (586-788-9966) to schedule a tour today or stop by during normal business hours, M-F, 8 AM – 5 PM! We would love to meet you, learn about your business and share a cup of coffee, on us!
Office Evolution is a locally owned and operated franchise of flexible office business centers with over 80 locations in North America. Office Evolution Troy is conveniently located at W Big Beaver Road and I-75 in the heart of downtown Troy, MI along the Million Dollar Mile of Oakland County. Office Evolution Troy proudly serves the Oakland, Wayne and Macomb County areas. Office Evolution focuses on dedicated, turn key professional working solutions to give small businesses a physical center of business in today’s overwhelmingly virtual business world. Our product offering is 100% flexible and scalable from somewhere to get your mail all the way to a dedicated office, conference room space and as always, free coffee. Our goal is to help make an affordable, impactful, efficient and beautiful business center for dreamers, doers and risk takers.