With all the different types of innovative marketing you can do for your small business, one of the most important tactics is a simple thing called networking. By meeting new people and building strong, long-lasting relationships with other industry professionals, you can significantly increase your business’ growth, sales and reach in impressive ways.
But because networking is essentially selling yourself and your business to create connections, some people have a hard time mastering the technique. To get a better grasp on your networking skills, take a look at these five tips.
- One of the best ways to begin networking is to start within your community and getting to know other local small business owners. By striking up a conversation and asking general questions about their business, you’ll create a level of trust and mutual understanding about living and doing business within your town or city. And if you really hit it off with one of the shops, a great way to encourage local support is to create a partnership around the holidays. For example, if a customer spends over $100 at your store, you can offer them a 15 per cent discount at your partner’s store, and vice versa.
- Having an online presence is not only great for marketing and branding, but it can be a powerful networking tool, too! Because social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn give you access to individuals in your community and other businesses in your industry, utilizing their features is a great way to make connections and develop relationships.
- Any successful networker will tell you that the key to building strong relationships is to listen more than you talk. By looking people in the eye, repeating their name and actively listening to what they say instead of simply talking about yourself and your business, you’ll make them feel relaxed and interested in who they are.
- If you live in a small town or city and are struggling to find great in-person networking opportunities, attending an industry trade show will get you face to face with a ton of professionals in your field. Not only will trade shows and conferences give you the chance to meet more people, but you’ll also get a first glimpse at hot new products, innovative industry trends and other information you can share with your employees and customers.
- The key to successful networking is to stay in touch with the contacts and relationships you worked so hard to get. Keep your connections alive and healthy by frequently reaching out with a casual email, phone call or even suggesting a get-together if you’re in the same area. And old-fashioned as they may be, birthday and holiday cards can work wonders.