So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start your own business. You’ve registered the name, had a logo designed, even got yourself a web site and, if you’re selling products you may have started your own market stall.
But, is that enough to make your business work?
For most new business owners, it’s tempting to shut up shop almost as soon as you’ve started because nobody seems to want what your business is offering.
But, is it that they don’t want it or that they don’t know about it?
Even if you have a business that has the advantage of foot traffic, you need to make sure that as many people know about your products and services as possible to maximise your success.
Joining the Network
There are many ways to start networking so that you can spread awareness of your business. Whether it’s your local chamber of commerce, with the additional advantage of offering business advice and seminars, networking groups that operate in your industry or you just take advantage of general social gatherings, networking face-to-face with people who may be interested in your products and services is still one of the best ways to boost your business.
There are many articles online that are dedicated to the rules of networking, many of which extoll the virtues of making sure you hand out your business card, take business cards home with you and follow up immediately with everyone you meet.
The beauty of networking face-to-face is that it allows you to make a connection with people. Networking events can be a nerve-wracking experience and often mean that you may not come across as you would like. However, if you just relax and go without any expectations, you will get much more out of the event.
Networking is a long-term investment of your time. Some connections will bear fruit immediately because you happen to meet someone who you gel with on a personal level who also happens to be looking for your products or services. But, more often than not, they are the beginning of an evolving relationship of mutual benefit and trust.
The main thing to remember is that people only do business with those they know, like and trust. You will never have a connection with everyone you meet at a networking event, just as you don’t form friendships with everyone you meet socially. The combination of personalities and philosophies is what creates great relationships, whether they are personal or business. Yes, you should follow the polite rules of etiquette and contact the people who you would like to get to know more, but sending out blanket ‘it was great to meet you’ emails is not a productive use of your time. Don’t force a connection if none exists naturally.
With the advent of social media, it is now easier than ever to network with people you wouldn’t normally have access to. Facebook, Twitter and Linked In offer a wide variety of options when it comes to connecting with new people and letting people know about your products and services. If you decide you want to take advantage of the online space make sure you read up on the rules of etiquette for the online space. Each tool is used differently and it’s easy to think that they’re a great broadcast medium for your business.
The key to online success is engagement, just as it is with face-to-face networking. It isn’t a magic space that will automatically generate untold numbers of new customers. It takes time, effort and sometimes money to make it work.
And, it’s very easy to make mistakes online which then stay with you for much longer than any social faux pas you make in person. But, as long as you stay true to your personality and your philosophy, online networking can deliver a rewarding group of raving fans.
Here are a couple of sites that provide a lot of excellent information about online networking and business promotion:
So off you go and spread the word!