Essential Networking Skills for SMB Owners
While growing a business and making valuable connections can be challenging for new business owners, networking is a crucial part of any successful business strategy. If you’re looking for new inspiring ways to improve your networking, our expert team of business advisers at BDO Tauranga is here to help.
Read on to learn our top networking tips for small to mid-sized business owners and how to develop a great networking strategy!
1. Create a networking strategy
If you want to start networking, you need to have a clear objective outlined in a strategy. Make sure you consider what the purpose of your networking plan is and how many contacts you need to achieve it. Always review your networking efforts after events to see what strategies worked best.
2. Nurture your online presence
Another crucial element of networking today is to establish a clear presence for your business online. Small business owners can use online platforms to network with potential clients, maintain relationships with existing ones, and create new connections with other business owners.
Having an online presence also gives you the opportunity to loin local communities and forum conversations that are relevant to your business. Keep in mind that when you join an online community, don’t immediately promote your services or products. Instead, make sure to ask questions from other business owners and offer advice where you can.
3. Narrow your community
Before you start attending networking events, do some preliminary research to determine your target audience. While some networking advisors may recommend talking to anyone and everyone who will listen, this approach will more likely have you expending your energy unnecessarily and wasting your time (and other business owners’ time) if their business ambitions are not in alignment with yours.
Research your target audience and take time to establish your brand with the right people. You can achieve this by providing useful information and increasing understanding and awareness of your service.
4. Plan your elevator pitch
Remember, when it comes to networking, time is money. To become a powerful networker, you need not only good communication skills but a fast and efficient style of communication. Having an elevation pitch planned before an event will help you to not only sell your business better but make more efficient use of your time so you can make more connections.
A good pitch should include the following:
- who you are,
- what you do,
- the problem your business solves,
- what sets you apart, and
- what you want to happen next for your business.
A well-thought-out pitch will give you a concise and memorable way of introducing your business to potential investors and customers alike.
5. Before an event
Before attending a networking event, do some research to scope out who will be attending and reach out to the people you would like to connect with online. By connecting with people ahead of time on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, you can build a following and create a connection with them before you meet at the event.
6. At an event
If you successfully laid down connections prior to the event, you will be in no shortage of conversation and people will be curious to know more about your business.
When it comes to networking, being good at listening is an essential skill. At events, don’t rush into sales mode straight away. Instead, listen to your peers. Not only will your respectful attention be appreciated, but it will also give them a good impression of you.
You can also use networking as a chance to gain valuable insights into entrepreneurship, which will help you make better business decisions.
Finally, before asking a networking contact for any favours, make sure to present them with something valuable. It is crucial to offer them something relevant and of value first to allow them to see the benefit in your proposition.
7. After an event
You should always follow up newfound connections after a networking event has ended—via social media, email, or phone call—to ensure the relationship continues. It is essential to maintain and grow these relationships as these contacts can end up becoming vital to your business and career objectives in the long term.
8. How to create lasting impressions
While creating great first impressions is an essential part of any great networking scheme, great second, third, and fourth impressions are equally as important to maintain lasting impressions and grow these relationships further.
Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or the hundredth, it’s important to be professional and courteous, and to create an environment that is inviting and genuine so you can build your relationships slowly over time. Your network should be comprised of people who you want to work with and who equally want to work with you.
Create valuable networking connections with professional business advice from BDO
At BDO, we have a team of professional advisors with the experience and knowledge to help your business succeed. For professional business advice on growing a business in New Zealand or internationally, explore our range of business advisory services. To transform your business and start building meaningful networking relationships, contact the team at BDO today.