Network, network, network. Good networking skills are more important than ever. Jobs are scarce, money is tight and people are trying to find income outside of the traditional 9 to 5 arena. The Internet makes it easy to reach out and touch someone. However, do you combine online social networking with person-to-person networking? How current are your networking skills?
Perhaps the more important question is, when will you have time to do this networking? You have a family to take care of and a house to manage, but you do want home business success too. Moms or dads who have a problem finding time to get out of the house to go to a networking event are often disappointed when the event turns into nothing more than a couple of hours of meet and greet, rather than a meeting of like-minded entrepreneurs. What can you do? You can make networking events work for you by fine-tuning your networking skills.
My advice is to reach beyond your networking comfort zone when looking for people to network with. Take a close look at your resume and really see what is there. Is "Webmaster" is listed on your resume and business card? Do you only think in terms of building a four or five page web site? Try to think outside of the "Webmaster" box and move beyond that. People like knowing something about individuals, so be sure to give potential clients/customer a little information about the person behind the business. Take a look at author sites, they not only talk about their books, they often have a page about themselves and families in a general way. No need to list the names of your children, "two boys, two girls and clever cat named Fluffy" will do.
Handy items for your purse or pocket:
- A few 3 x 5 index cards for taking notes, etc. Have extras to hand to the person who asks if you have a piece of paper. If you are a guerilla marketer, make or order labels that you place on the cards. Now the recipient has the name of person who gave him or her that much needed blank card.
- If you make your own biz cards, bring a few blank cards for those who do not have cards. Give them a card to write their information, you are less likely to lose or misplace it.
Make sure you have a proper business cards. You card should be:
- Clean and unmarked, no frayed or torn edges,
- In a holder or clean pocket,
- Up-to-date information; no cross outs or hand-written changes,
- Suitable for your line of business. If you have several businesses have an appropriate card. A double-sided card is perfect for multiple businesses.
- Readily available. You should not have to search for your card.
Things to do the following week:
- Send a personal note or e-mail to each person you are interested in networking with. Give or ask for a date of next contact or ask for meeting. Then follow-up and follow through.
- Send out a general note to those you have no interest or need in networking with but enjoyed meeting. This can be a short e-mail message. Just let them know that it was nice meeting them and sign off with your business information. Sign off with your full name below your given name or nickname, there is a better chance that you will be remembered. Why be remembered by someone if you don't want to network with them? Because you may want to network with their friend. Because remembering a person can mean a referral.
You can do your follow-ups during your down time or get up a half hour before everyone else does to send "It was a pleasure to meet you" e-mail. It is important to carve out some time for yourself and your business if you want it to grow and flourish.
Twitter and Facebook are great ways to keep in touch and acknowledge people. However Tweeting "It was nice to meeting you" should not be your first choice. Send a personal e-mail the same day of the meeting. It does not hurt to send a short note by snail mail, with a sample of your product if small and appropriate. A presence on Twitter and Facebook are almost necessary. Be sure not to forget older social networks such as LinkedIn. Business networks are perfect for sharing information about your products, plus you can gain business information that you may otherwise miss.