Growing your business is all about networking events and handing out business cards, right? Actually, no. Growing your business — one that is sustainable — is more about growing a community. Change your mindset on networking and instead think of it in terms of “building your community.” In a community those who “live” there help each other out, provide referrals and are generally there if you need a helping hand.
How can you build your community?: Here are my thoughts:
- When you meet new people aka prospects, be engaging and engage with them. If you’re meeting people you already know you also want to make sure you are at the top of your game. Ask how they are, how the family is, how their business is and if there’s anything you can do to help them thrive.
- Don’t isolate yourself. The more people you know, the larger your community. When you look at the numbers on LinkedIn that show you how many people you’re connected to because of your individual connections, you can see how easy it is to actually build a community.
- Be a volunteer. Not all networking events need to be about sharing what your business does. If you volunteer your time with groups that support the missions and visions you believe in you will become known as a giver and will also grow your community of like minded individuals.
What can you do today to build your community?
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? Or do the tough give up? There are certainly times in your life when it’s difficult or seemingly impossible to put one foot in front of the other, to simply wait for inspiration and motivation to strike. Take heed. This may not happen. You need to push yourself past your limits, find your inspiration and keep moving forward.
What can you do to pressure yourself toward achievements? Here are my tips:
- Take charge. If you’re working on a team project that’s stalled, step in and take charge. Reinvigorate it with your new ideas and enthusiasm.
- Become a role model. If you’re in charge and you’re not taking steps to move a project forward, your inertia could be holding everyone back.
- Go the extra mile — whether it’s in a a project for a client, a promise you made to a family member or in any aspect of your life. Give just that little bit extra than your competition and you’ll likely come out ahead.
To be successful you need to push yourself, pressure yourself toward greatness and achieve your goals. What steps can you take today to pressure yourself?
Networking, both in person and online are great ways to build a business. If you’re a new business owner wondering how to go about spreading the word about who you are and what you do, I have some advice.
Here are some of the strategies I share when working with coaching clients:
- Credibility matters: Build credibility through word of mouth referrals. If you’re new to entrepreneurship, you will have to prove your credibility through your work ethics.
- Visibility counts: Once you sign on the dotted line with a client then the real work begins: be available and responsive to questions and concerns. Being visible with potential clients means you need to get out of your office and shake hands because nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.
- Experience shows: Why should potential clients work with you and why should current clients stay with you? Because of the expertise and knowledge you bring to the job you do for them. How do you show this? By educating your clients, keeping them up to date with trends in your industry and letting them know how it impacts them.
Will these steps help you grow your business?
You’ve gone as high as you possibly can, right? Have you truly pushed yourself as far as you can go? Do you have it in you to push just a little bit farther or harder? Are you giving up now that you feel you’ve reached the pinnacle of success in either business or in life — or both?
Could it be that you’ve reached a point at which you’re just going to give up? That brass ring is just this far out of reach and you simply can’t push yourself any further? Well, you should push forward. Striving, pushing yourself to greater heights fuels even more activity and even more success. I truly believe that.
What can you do? Here are my three suggestions:
- Make sure you have proper perspective. There are times when it feels that all the walls are caving in, but when this happens you need to take a deep breath and step back so you can get a new perspective. You may need to talk to a friend or family member or trusted business colleague to help you regain perspective.
- Dream big. Live large. No one says you can’t dream big. If you don’t put out big dreams for yourself, who will? Push your limits to achieve big dreams. If you have a long term goal that is HUGE, break it into smaller bite-sized chunks then go for it!
- Attitude matters. If you’re positive you will draw in positive energy and positive people. Negativity feeds negativity and so a positive attitude will feed a positive attitude. See what you can do to gain a more positive attitude then push forward.
What can you do to achieve a dream?
Whether you’re a job seeker or an entrepreneur, there are effective ways in which to network and there are ways in which your networking efforts will falter. Once you’ve honed your elevator speech, shaken hands and exchanged business cards, what next? Do you talk about the weather? Politics (not usually a good idea)? What comes next? Having some conversation starters can certainly keep the networking efforts moving along and here are a few tips for your next meet-and-greet:
- Understand your reasons for having attended the networking event. Is it to find a job? Uncover new opportunities for your business? Simply to get out of the office and see new/different people? Hone your personal and professional skills? Once you know the reasons you can formulate a plan.
- What kind of topics do you want to discuss? If you’re meeting someone one on one, why did you plan the meeting? Was it information gathering? To use their service? To offer yours? Also, don’t forget to have some ice breakers on hand. Consider talking about books, movies, sports or even just asking them why they are attending this event, what they hope to get out of it. Ask the person with whom you’re speaking what they like best about the work that they do. Be genuine in your interest.
- Make certain the conversation is a give and take. You don’t want to monopolize the entire conversation but then again you don’t want to walk away having said nothing about who you are and what you do.
What are your best tips for making the most of networking events?