5 Tips For Painless Networking Even If You’re Not A ‘People Person’If the idea of networking makes your skin crawl, you’re hardly alone. “Networking,” says small business expert Michael Port, is “frequently confused with getting out of the house, putting on your best shoes and attending those hideous events where everybody’s trying to hand out business cards.”
Port, the author of the bestselling book “Book Yourself Solid,” was recently interviewed for an article on the OPEN Forum small business website. While networking is essential to building your small business, suffering is optional. Here are five tips for painless networking.
- Make a daily habit of checking in with five people that you’d like to develop a better business relationship with: “Share something interesting, make an introduction, display compassion,” Port suggests. This kind of natural, authentic networking is “entirely within the reach of every business owner I’ve ever met.”
- Use common interests to start conversations: The key is finding a topic you can talk to someone about that you’re both interested in. You might want to stick to business topics, but talking about golf or baseball can help break the ice. From there, you can broaden the conversation and build the relationship.
- Choose communication strategies that you’ll enjoy: Build awareness for your business by playing to your strengths and natural preferences. “If you’re not a great user of social media, or if you don’t like speaking, writing or buying ads, then there’s little point in trying to be proactive in those areas,” Port says.
- Try getting involved with small business groups in your community: Getting to know your peers can pave the way for new business and provide support. As a group, SMBs tend to advocate for each other.
- Target your networking efforts: Networking can be strategic without being inauthentic; just remember that you don’t have to please everyone.
Not every small business owner is a “people person.” Fortunately, networking is a social skill that can be learned, developed and — if you follow these five tips — even enjoyable.
We’d love to hear from you, especially any readers who are reluctant networkers. What advice would you give for building authentic business relationships through networking?
Source: OPEN Forum, May 2013
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