To (grossly) paraphrase Thomas Merton: No small business is an island. You need to have a cast of supporting characters (a network) in order to make a go of it.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of networking – but what is it? And more importantly, how do you go about doing it? We have a few tips to help make you a card-carrying (and card-collecting!) small business schmoozer.
1. Get a Better Business Card
When it comes to networking, you’re nothing without a business card, and no – any old one won’t do. To be noticed, you have to stand out from the typical sea of black writing on white cardstock.
Experiment with different fonts, colors and even materials, and make sure that you include several ways to get in touch. At the bare minimum, it should include your email address, website and phone number, but if you have room, your Facebook and LinkedIn information is great, too.
2. Develop Your Elevator Pitch
Networking opportunities are everywhere, so you better be ready when they come up. Whether you’re standing in line at the DMV, attending parents’ night at your child’s school or unwinding at the local watering hole after a long week, when opportunity knocks, you need to answer!
You need a great elevator pitch: what you do, why it matters and how you can help your new contact (and vice versa). Hemming and hawing won’t get you far, so make sure this is something you know by heart – even if you have to practice it in the mirror every morning before you leave the house.
3. Be a Part of Your Community
Your local community offers tons of networking opportunities, so take advantage of them! From high school sporting events to local theater and musical performances, business contacts await just outside your front door.
Try to attend as many community functions as you can and interact with your neighbors. Exchange a smile, some small talk and your business card during halftime or intermission. You can never have too many connections!
Once you start growing your small business network, you need to maintain it. Always follow up with new contacts with a quick email or phone call letting them know how pleased you were to meet them. When you keep the channels of communication open, it’s much easier to ask for help or pitch them on something later on.
Need more small business networking tips? Drop Mischa Communications a line and let us be a resource for your small business marketing needs. We’d love to exchange business cards anytime!