When we think of networking often times images of happy hour, spending an inordinate amount of time in the evenings at a restaurant or office building with a whole lot of chit chat that may yield little to no business at all. While this type of activity can seem tiresome and unnecessary, it can be a great way to get your business off the ground. This simple, cost-effective (sometimes FREE) way of advertising is a means of getting the word out about your business.
Everyone is experienced at networking. Remember what happened when you ate at that great seafood restaurant, found the best bargain at the local shoe store, located a fantastic dry cleaners? It’s probably safe to assume you told a few family members, friends or co-workers. This is networking; passing along information to those who most likely will use these products or services.
The same will work for your business. Once you get the word out, others will tell their friends, family members or co-workers as well. The next thing you know people are spreading the news about YOUR products or services. And if you are able to maintain and deliver on the quality that you promise, the word will continue to spread and that could mean a dramatic increase in sales.
Networking through word of mouth is an incredibly powerful tool for advertising and promoting your products or services. But there is a more formal approach you can take. Activities such as speaking at meetings, holding get-togethers at your home or other location, conducting training classes or demonstrations at your local library or other public facilities, and the like. Whichever avenue you take, always remember to:
- carry plenty of business cards, brochures, pamphlets or samples;
- dress appropriately for the event you’re attending;
- be prepared to respond to questions or requests of participants; and
- follow up with interested participants in writing or by phone as soon after the event as practicable.
In addition, joining the local chapter of your related trade association, chamber of commerce, rotary club or other social organization can give your business the exposure it needs to grow and prosper. Individuals there with a wealth of knowledge and whom you share a common purpose will not only provide you with the benefit of their own experiences, but also spread the word about your business with an expectation of reciprocity.
The basic premise of networking is to get clients through the recommendations of others who are familiar with your products or services. As more and more individuals begin to recognize you and your company, you begin to build your brand and an image that can increase profitability year over year.