How to be a Networking Ninja for Your Small Business
Business owners quickly come to realize the importance of relationships in every aspect of running a business, from picking a financing company to hiring employees. The more strong connections that business owners have at their disposal, the more they will be able to find new opportunities as well as come up with the resources to act on them. Making connections, like many parts of running a business, is an art form. The good news is that by adopting certain habits and a positive attitude, pretty much every business owner can rise to ninja level for the benefit of their business and their professional careers.
First rule is don’t be shy. If opportunities all looked the same, then it would simply be a matter of waiting around until a great one came along to be successful. In the real world, you can never really be sure what will come along, so instead of waiting business owners should actively try to interact with as many different people as possible with an open mind. Diversify the viewpoints that you consume, and attend business geared events in your area and beyond.
Be ready to talk about your business, but don’t be too pushy. All business owners should spend at least a little time working on their sales pitches. When the topic turns to business, business owners should be able to converse about what makes their business unique and get people interested in it. That said, be willing to have normal conversations with people. If a potential connection sees that you only care about talking about your business that can be potentially harmful to your chances of following up with them later. You should come across as the real you; a person with your own interests and a good personality as well as a competent and collaborative business owner.
Have follow up information on hand. You should keep at least a couple copies of your business card with you whenever you go out in order to get in the habit of following up on whatever opportunities you may encounter in the course of your day. Business cards should contain your contact information of course, but you may also want to include how to find a profile on LinkedIn, which many entrepreneurs use in order to stay connected to people they meet in a business context. Since this service can easily be accessed using a phone app, people can connect with you on this network potentially as soon as you meet them, obviating the chance that your contact information gets lost from point A to point B.
Stay in touch. After you make a connection, if you let it die out then the effort that you put in to create it is essentially wasted. Update your social media accounts to let people know what you are up to, and follow up with people who you have met to contextualize your link to them and investigate the potential for you to help each other.
Photo Credit to Zach Dischner on Flickr