The importance of being an effective networker
Most Small Business Owners (SBOs) rely on confidantes or advisors to consult with when making a critical business decision. But how do they determine who is an advisor? For some, a paid partner like an accountant or an attorney makes the most sense. Often SBOs like to talk about their situation with a few different kinds of “experts”.
So how does one go about creating a network of advisors who are trusted and reliable? Building relationships with your company’s current partners and providers makes the most sense. They already know you, your business, and your challenges and will benefit from your success. But taking the time to build a robust group of reliable advisors is something that every SBO needs to focus on every day and with every interaction.
This validates the need to become really good at networking, since that is the way to build relationships and expand your personal contacts. It's also adventageous to seek out events and activities that have real meaning to you on a personal and professional level.
How should a small business owner go about engaging in networking?
- First, you should be yourself and not focus solely on business. Show that you care about the people.
- Next, ask questions and get to know people on a personal level. Share a little bit about yourself. Demonstrate your personal commitment to things that matter to you.
- You should also offer to help others and put together people you know so that they can help each other.. They will remember your attention to their details and your willingness to help. They’ll also see how you interact with your various contacts, especially if you can bring together people of different backgrounds and businesses.
- Finally, you should be able to articulate your own business’s value proposition. Consider why someone should care about what you do and the solutions you provide. Be able to effectively communicate your own “commercial”. Remember, you want to be able to attract people who want to help you as well!
It is important to be an active networker. Commit to do something on a regular basis. Set your own intentions for each event/activity. Create a process to remember, thank and build an ongoing relationship with people you meet. Put people together to help each other. And don’t forget to ask for help for your own business when you need it!