Get out and mingle – you’re the most influential person there is when it comes to your business.
We all know “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Networking will open doors that you otherwise would never get near. Here are some ways to go about it:
Hit industry conferences, trade shows, local Chamber functions. Meet and greet everyone possible both in town and out of state. People who have met you may not need your service or products immediately, but they could suggest other customers to you or introduce you to a mover and shaker.
Join Groups and Clubs
Like event networking, this gives you a personal entree to people who mix business and pleasure. The groups don’t have to be business-related to be effective. Join a scuba-diving club. Sit on the board of the local United Way. Find a public venue for a private talent (acting or artistry?). Sit on the committee for a big, popular local festival. Who you are and what you do will spread to new circles where customers may exist.
Position yourself as a thought leader, at the center of attention. Become the magnanimous person who brings everyone together. If you’re a florist, for example, every Friday night host an iced tea and creative flower-presentation party, where customers can bring in their arrangements and learn from one another. Of course, you give a presentation about the cutting-edge designs coming into style this season, and voila – you’re the thought leader. It’s up to you to figure out how to put yourself at the center of your customers’ universe. Just be sure you do.
Get Networked with a Complementary Business
This is all about networking with businesses that offer products or services to your target market, but who are in no way competitive. Say you’re a franchise owner of a UPS store. Work up a reciprocal relationship with the local framing and photography store, and offer discounted picture-frame shipping for the store’s customers. In doing so, you’ve snared a customer who might have considered an alternative shipper – missed revenue you’d never otherwise see.
Have Business Cards with You at All Times
Do we really need to say more? Just be sure you do, and don’t be afraid to dole them out liberally.