One of the most crucial mistakes you can make as a business owner is to neglect the importance of proper networking. Sure, it takes time and it sometimes seems like you’re not making any real progress towards your business itself. But the long-term benefits of this are not to be underestimated, especially if you’re just starting out in your field. Here are some tips for making the most of your networking efforts.
1. Trade Shows and Conventions
Some underestimate the potential of trade shows and similar events. The main point of those gatherings isn’t to show off your product – it’s to connect with other professionals in your field. The fact that regular customers are allowed to roam the floor doesn’t mean that they should be your top priority at an event like that. And they really shouldn’t, unless you have something unique to show off.
2. Be the First Thing That Pops into Your Current Partners’ and Clients’ Heads
Many of the best references you’ll get will come from existing clients and partners. So, make sure that whenever a discussion steers in the direction of the services or products you’re offering, your name is the first that they will think of. This increases your chances of getting recommended during a random conversation, which might bring you much more than you’d expect.
3. The Power of Long-Term Relationships
On a related note, try to build long, lasting relationships with both your customers and everyone you work with. Over time, your reputation is going to weigh more and more. And if you play your cards right, you can turn yourself into the main point of contact for your corresponding services. At some point, you might even get to a state where new business just keeps coming to you without any action required on your part. Make no mistake though, getting there takes quite a lot of effort and patience.
4. Sports and Other Hobbies
It doesn’t all have to happen in a formal event where everyone is wearing suits and sipping on fancy drinks. Sometimes casual hobbies make for the best networking opportunities. From golf to squash, basketball and even things like boxing, there are lots of opportunities to bond with potential business partners and clients if you have a hand for something popular. Even if you don’t, it’s never too late to start learning. Some sports such as golf can be more challenging to pick up without the proper environment and equipment, so you might want to look into private training tools, which you can practice with at home. One of these golf simulators can work wonders for boosting your golfing performance without having to spend time at a course on a regular basis.
5. Don’t Be Pushy
You’ll often hear advice suggesting being aggressive and pushing potential contacts as much as you can. Take that with a huge grain of salt. There are several things to point out about this tip. First, it’s somewhat outdated nowadays, and it’s set in a time where it was a much more appropriate approach. Second, it requires a very specific type of personality and presentation to work. Anything less and it will backfire immensely. And if you don’t know what this type of presentation is about, then you probably don’t have the right attitude to use such tactics. Bottom line, don’t waste good opportunities by trying to make yourself seem more aggressive for no reason.
The fact that you have to do all of this while also maintaining your business and keeping it on track can make the whole experience seem quite daunting. And that’s not far from the truth – running a business is always a challenging ordeal. But if you have a persistent attitude to push it all the way, you can see some fantastic results in the end.
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