If you own a small business, networking should be a key component of your overall marketing strategy. Networking is the best way to build relationships with people in your community at a personal level. It’s the only way to convey who you are in real life; something that will earn a tremendous amount of trust, confidence and credibility if done properly.

Networking can be very intimidating for some business owners. It requires being able to walk into rooms full of people you don’t know and feel comfort approaching these folks with a welcoming smile and an engaging hand shake. It also takes time and some money to participate in the myriad of events, socials, grand-openings, workshops, presentations and lunches that are available each week to business owners who are already working long hours just to run the businesses they have.

Whether you are a networking maven, someone who doesn’t think it will generate business or someone who is terrified of the prospect of going to these functions, it’s important to recognize that marketing strategies have shifted from traditional media and relentless advertising to more social interaction. For the majority of businesses trying to create a brand or a market presence, social interaction is the fastest way to get the word out about `who’ you are and `what’ you do.

As a small business advisor, the most common complaint I hear about networking is the low payout for the time and money invested. Make no mistake, networking can be a time-consuming endeavor and if not approached with a plan, can be reduced to eating too much fatty food and having coffee with people you’ll never see again. So how do you make the most from your networking efforts?

If you’ve had hit-and-miss results with networking, here are some tips you can use to create a strategy to get greater results from your networking efforts:

1. Decide what you want from networking:
Expectations play a huge role in the results you get from working the room. Decide whether you are looking for customers or wanting to make connections with potential referral partners. Referral partners are business owners who focus on similar customer targets.

Originally posted 2015-09-06 02:43:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter