We’ve heard it all before…it’s not what you know but who you know. Building a business requires building and maintaining relationships and in order to do that, you must put yourself out there. As you begin to meet people, join groups, committees, etc. your network will expand and give you the tools to market your business on an interpersonal level. Building a presence in the community and leaving a lasting impression on those you encounter can create big rewards.
You’re invited to another networking event. You bring your business cards and have a pen and paper handy. As you enter the room, you scan the crowd looking to see who can help you and then make a plan of attack. It sounds good in theory, however, this approach can be off putting to the very people you are trying to connect with.
Networking is about being open to opportunity. Never go into a situation with an agenda or a “what can you do for me” attitude. Instead, go in with the mindset of “what can I offer you?” This approach can become a real game changer and offer much more opportunity in return. Knowing what kind of connections you have and how you can best use them to help others will reflect positively on you.
As a business owner, it’s important to grow your network with genuine intentions and realistic expectations. The relationships that will flourish and lead to opportunities are those that begin by getting to know one another. If you approach networking as simply making acquaintance or making friends, the relationship will continue to grow over time with benefit for both parties.
Franchisees have a unique opportunity to network within their community as well as within the franchise system itself. Franchise owners are surrounded by other individuals going through similar situations or by those who have been through it before. Having that support system and building relationships with fellow franchisees can provide valuable guidance and feedback that will allow you to help each other succeed.
Jumpstarting your networking efforts can seem daunting at first. One of the best ways to begin is by submersing yourself and your business into the community. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is an important step toward becoming an established business member.
As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you are connected to other local business owners, invited to ongoing networking events, and may even receive mentions in the chamber newsletter or other publications. All of this and more will ultimately increase your visibility in the community and provide invaluable assets to the growth of your business.
In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, research other local networking groups and begin branching out. Check out this article that reiterates the importance of building relationships and lists 10 websites to find the best local business networking events.
Also, keep in mind that networking goes beyond organized gatherings. You can “network” with friends, family, and even your kid’s soccer coach. You will begin to find that just about everyone you meet has the potential to become your biggest advocate and put you in the best possible position to grow your business.