Networking and marketing are often used together in the same sentence as if they had the same meaning. They don’t. Networking is primarily done through relationships, marketing is done through advertising and other means.
Networking needs to be a strong part of any business, especially a new business. Think of it as planting seeds, every person you meet could become a client or lead you to a client.
There are networking events held in most communities. The most common place to start is your local chamber of commerce. Some networking groups require a membership fee which is usually worth it.
They provide the venue, refreshments, activities and most importantly the people. Get in front of as many people as possible! There’s also a website called meetup.
Once you get introduced to some other local business owners they can also direct you to other networking events. A great book to read about networking is called Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty by Harvey Mackay.
When you attend a networking event the idea is to connect with as many new people as possible. This can be intimidating if you’re new at it, don’t worry. Everyone else probably feels the same way. Your goal is to make people like you. Become interested in them and ask questions.
Don’t take the approach of selling your services to everyone you meet. Take a genuine interest in them and try to find common ground. Then when they ask you what you do, you can explain. Be sure to trade business cards with everyone you meet.
The key to networking is consistency and follow up. Do what you say you are going to do. Relationships take time to build. Be consistent and it will be successful.
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