Most people who have their own businesses will thrive on networking and get a majority of their new business from networking in the community. I think that going out and networking can be hard for people who are shy or introverted but not always. Sometimes though people are so passionate about what they do for a living that even thought they may be shy, once they start talking about their business then they will open up. Everyone is different.
A lot of practice consultants or business consultants will say that the hardest part about getting new business is getting that client through the door. Once they are through the door they are usually good clients and it’s up to you for how you go about retaining that client. But to get them, always the difficult part.
Some easy things I’ve found in my time in business throughout three different states are networking groups. There are plenty of these and the great thing is EVERYONE is there for the same thing! This is great for anyone who is nervous or shy knowing that everyone is there for the same reasons. Some of the groups that are networking groups throughout the country are;
- Chamber of Commerce
- Rotary Club
- American Business Women’s Association ABWA
I personally like networking in person because I think it’s nice for people to see how you come across with your personality and likewise with others. You can see what you do or do not like about someone especially if you are willing to refer clients to them.
Other great ways to network, I think, is online with social media platforms. There are some groups and pages on Facebook and Twitter that are free and easy to join. This is also nice to do if you have any timing issues because you can post stuff once home at night, instead of a networking event that’s only a Thursday night from 5-7pm or a Tuesday lunch 12-2pm. I also think that getting reviews online, yelp, Facebook and Google really make a difference too.
Some other ways to network in person are simple things like maybe a church event, getting a booth at the mall or fair (job fair, health fair, bridal expo, green market etc.), working with volunteer organizations and or even hosting your own event at your own office/place/store. This type of networking though is a little more geared towards soliciting because you are trying to get strangers to commit to your business or product. This is not always the easiest thing to do even for someone who is boisterous and outgoing. Before spending much money on a booth or event, look at the costs & see how many clients/sales you will need before entering into a contract that will cost a certain amount if you are not going to get that amount in return. Also, look to see that you have the correct types of outgoing personalities for a booth/event to get the return on your investment.
No matter how much or how little time someone has for networking, there is something that can always be done. Look to see what best suits you for your needs, time and personality to best determine what you can do efficiently in the future.
-Dr. Angela Vecellio