I live and work in a very unique place. My local market is a small one, but within three hundred miles of me there are six major US cities. So, I have the benefit of both a small market atmosphere and a large market reach.
The best way take advantage of this situation is to make time to network. Networking in simple terms is reaching out to people who could be possible clients or business associates in your niche/industry. By networking with these people and companies you will have the inside track when they are looking for someone like you to benefit their business.
There are several things that are true in understanding the whole concept of networking:
- Networking takes time. You can’t just join a “networking” group or put a profile up on LinkedIn and Facebook and expect that new business will come pouring in the door. You must learn to “make a name for yourself” in these groups and online before people will see you as an asset to their business.
- Networking takes effort. If you plan to network with potential clients in your industry, you have to make the effort to know what they need and how your companies products/services can meet their companies needs. If you don’t do your homework, networking becomes nothing more than coffee table chat.
- Networking is not the same as sales. This to me is the biggest single truth that we have to overcome. When you are networking, you are not selling. Networking will certainly bring people into the sales cycle, but to make networking about sales will loose you more clients than it will ever gain. Networking allows you to become someone who is known, liked, and trusted. Sales results from that!
To make time to network, when done properly, will open the door for opportunities that would have never come about any other way. (Both from those we meet and from those they will introduce us to.) To not make time to network just makes growing your business that much harder.