Networking is one of the most essential skills for small business owners. Communication and strong presence in the small business ecosystem are essential and will help you along your way to building what Karen Joseph of Seven Networking says is crucial, strong relationships with other professionals from different groups, nationalities and fields of interest.
I remember clearly my first networking event. It was in Dublin, Ohio and I heard about this obscure (to me) topic of “networking” – probably from a podcast. I was so nervous that I stumbled over my words several different times whenever I wasn’t searching for a wall to lean against. Whenever someone asked for my business card it cemented in my mind that I really needed to have some made – since I brought none to that first event.
The next networking event I attended, at the same place, actually ended up being worse because the “genius that I am” brought a 2” x 8” sheet of copy paper with my name, number and makeshift logo on it instead of a simple business card. I had designed and cut them out about an hour before the event. Needless to say, I did NOT get many (if any) calls back from my out-of-the box version of a business card.
If you need some help making your own business cards in the correct format and style we here at Smart Document Solutions are willing to answer any questions you may have! If you aren’t big on DIY there are many great local Arizona based print shops that use Xerox production printers who can fulfill your needs as well.
One thing every successful business or busy professional needs to do is network. So today I’d like to go over some basics of networking and attending networking events. I asked some of the best networkers I know for their opinions and got a number of great responses. First, here’s my 2 cents:
Have a Business card! – At the very least you should have a business card that has you name, number and email. Bonus items would be what you do. Added extra – what you help other people do.
Ask for other people’s business card first before offering yours. – Some people have a tendency of just generically handing out their business card to anyone breathing in a room without taking a step back to see if there is a need there. Don’t do this.
Be kind – People do business with those they know, like and trust. Getting the first one down is pretty easy – just interact with someone. However if you’re mean or standoffish (like I used to be) It’s very hard for people to get to the like stage with you and thus very hard for them to trust you long enough to do business with you.
So here are some great tips from the professionals – people who do a ridiculous amount of networking and whom I look up to in the world of networking:
“Come to the situation with an expectation to learn about others first, before talking about yourself. “
Karen Joseph – @sevennetworking – Karen wanted to start a networking group for women to support each other a few years back. Not only did she do that but now she has 41 (yes Forty-one) networking groups for both women AND men both here in the valley of the sun and 20+ across the country. For the pure introverts (and those in remote communities) she even has virtual seven meetings weekly…but I digress. Her advice is:
“Building relationships is the fuel for your small business.”
Monty Campbell – @CashFlowsToYou – is one of several awesome people I met at the New Media Expo #NMX. To give you an idea on how connected this guy is – he gets to about 2-3 networking events weekly. He also has 16,000 Twitter followers – you read that right sixteen thousand with a “T”. I’m going to paraphrase his advice but I’m sure he’ll correct me if I go too far off base:
“Meetup.com is HUGE! There are always groups going on and I encourage people to go check out free meetups you never know who you’ll meet.”
Jason Yun @yuntraining – is a fitness training phenome based out of Columbus, OH. Full disclosure, he’s also my very own accountability partner. When he’s not whipping people into shape with Keto training (my wife lost 10 lbs while on his program but who’s counting?) he’s out networking. Jason’s advice for me is
“Actually go to networking events then find a way to help them.”
OD Harris @od_harris – Is an accountant and also social media whiz – you wouldn’t expect that combination until you see one of his videos and then you begin to understand. He also networks an incredible amount. OD’s advice is:
“When you are networking learn to listen more and speak less after meeting people for the first time.”
As you can likely see – there is a pattern to networking successfully. Do it a lot, with a lot of different people, and actively listen and learn about the people you are meeting in order to build meaningful relationships. If there are any networking events here in Arizona that you are going to attend make sure to let us know. We love meeting new people!