Networking is probably a word you’ve heard at least 50 times in the past month, but do you really know what it means? Wikipedia defines Networking as, “a socioeconomic business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.”
Basically, networking is a great tool for any business person that tends to get overlooked by “girl bosses.” Why is that? Perhaps the competitive nature that women face in all facets of life but specifically in the work place. Why do women feel the need to compete with one another? When women support one another and foster working relationships with fellow businesswomen, incredible things can happen. Haven’t you even heard in the art of collaboration? It boils down to the concept that two heads are better than one.
Are you familiar with the term, “sphere of influence?” It basically describes your network of colleagues, friends, and other relationships related to your business. The whole point of networking is to increase your sphere of influence and gain business referrals or partnerships. Networking is a fairly simple task, although it can seem rather daunting. Here’s what you need to do in order to effectively network and increase your sphere of influence.
-Look up a business expo/conference for other people in your industry
-Go to a Business Network International meeting (these events include all different businesses or tradesmen, so expect a variety of professions)
-If you’re an entrepreneur or “creative” there’s business meet ups for that too! There’s The Rising Tide Society, which is for creative men and women entrepreneurs or Heather Crabtree’s Savvy Community, which is just for lady entrepreneurs.
Stop Trying to Sell Your Business!
The best way to network is to genuinely create a relationship or connection with other individuals, if they like you they will want to learn more about your company, and even refer you business/create a partnership opportunity. If you try to sell them on your business, chances are you’re not going to hear from them again. Just focus on creating relationships and having real conversations! In reality, it’s about you first and then about your business. No one wants to do business with someone they don’t get along with. So build the relationship first, then talk about business.
Save their Information
Don’t you dare throw away a single business card! I’ve done this so many times, thinking that I’ll never need that contact’s information because it’s irrelevant to what I do. Then 2 months later I end up needing their information and it’s no where to find. Save their information digitally! Whether you put it into a Contact Management System or enter it into an excel sheet saved onto your desktop, you never know when you might have a need for that person and their business.
After the event, it’s important to follow up maybe a week later. Just a simple:
“It was nice to meet you the other day. It was great to talk about _________. I just wanted to reach out and share my contact information with you. Hope to see you at future events and look forward to speaking with you in the future. “
It’s a good idea to reference what you spoke about in order to jog their memory of who exactly you are. Reaching out will not only guarantee that they have your contact information but open a line of communication for the future.
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