As a small business owner or entrepreneur, your success is built on three things: your integrity, your reputation, and the value you bring to the product or service you stand behind. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply have these things – you need to make sure others know about it. This means having a strong professional network.
Contrary to what you might think, professional networking isn’t about shaking hands, making small talk and handing out reams of business cards, although there might be some of that. It takes time, and it takes a genuine desire to be helpful to others, maybe even some volunteering here and there. Suffice to say, you’ll have to put yourself out there in many ways, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or tedious. If you are just starting out, or if you aren’t sure how to get some professional networking mojo happening, we’ve put together some handy tips – food for thought, if you will – that will help assure your place in the firmament of whatever it is you do:
1. See and be seen
You’re the one-man (or woman) show, and you’ve got little time for extracurricular activities. However, all work and no play can make you dull, and that’s not just a cliché. Get out there with others of your ilk. Mix and mingle, rub elbows, accept invitations, and offer your own invitations in return. Work in an executive office suite or shared space environment? start a bowling team, or organize a golf tournament to get to know each other better. Once you get better acquainted with who you’re working next to, you might even find that there is some potential for a mutually beneficial working relationship. You’ll never know unless you go.
2. Show your authority
Are you an invaluable wellspring of knowledge on your subject matter? Seek out opportunities to speak publically about what you do, and you will attract like-minded professionals who can benefit from what you have to say. Once you have developed a reputation as an authority, people will seek you out, and the word will get around that you’re the kind of person they ought to know. If you can’t conjure up the opportunity to speak, do it through web content that you post on your website and share through your social media channels.
3. Stay in touch and follow up
Don’t just exchange business cards. Take the time to follow up with people you’ve just met. Even if it’s a quick email to let them know what an absolute pleasure it was to meet them, the effort is always appreciated. These days, busy professionals are constantly meeting new people, and what will set you apart is your genuine desire to connect. Be interested (but not pushy), and open the door for future discussion.
Nothing says you really, truly care like volunteering for a task or event. If you find out about a charity event one of your colleagues is involved in, find out how you can help, or offer your services pro bono. A little generosity goes a long way, both in business and in life, and you’ll be known for the time and effort you put in so selflessly. Plus, think about how good you’ll feel. It’s a win-win.
5. Deliver on your promises
It’s one thing to promise, it’s another thing entirely to deliver the goods. In today’s world, professionals have little time for those who can’t stand behind their words. Be intentional, be forthright, and don’t make any promises you don’t intend to keep. Your professional network will flourish if you are seen as being a person of your word.
Green Hills Office Suites: flexible office space in Nashville
A strong professional network can help your small business grow, but building it takes time, patience and consistency. If you are an entrepreneur, startup or small business owner, Green Hills Office Suites can help you create a solid foundation. Call today, or drop by for a tour. We’d love to introduce ourselves and talk a little about what we can do for you.