by Guest Author on November 28, 2012
Every person you know is a potential networking goldmine. Whether you work in a big city or a small town, always look to your network as a series of opportunities waiting to happen. Every connection can help expand your network and as your network grows, your global reach expands along with it.
Networking is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur can have. Without it, the valuable relationships that cultivate opportunities could never be made. Making business connections, especially local ones, is a fantastic way to discover new resources and receive insightful advice. Unfortunately, few small business owners understand the significance of local networking and how it often leads to contacts within a global market space. Practicing high value networking in your local area can help with this.
Why Local Networking Helps Create a Global Reach
Believe it or not, local networking can often be a straight path to international success for your business. It is at the various networking events that opportunities for meeting global players and customers are created. For instance, the owner of the business across the street may very well be selling their products overseas and could easily put you in touch with the right people to allow you to do the same. The wise entrepreneur looks beyond the obvious and recognizes the global potential that local contacts sometimes have.
Benefits of a Strong Local Network
Obviously, the stronger your local network, the better able you’ll be to get your product or service to market. But what are some of the other benefits associated with having such a network?
Referrals – The more local business owners you connect with, the more you’ll be able to get targeted referrals from your network. You may meet someone who doesn’t have a need for your product or service, but chances are that they can put you in touch with a business owner who does, or even give you multiple leads you can run with. Remember that when this happens, it’s extremely important to follow up on those leads as soon as possible.
Immediate Sales – Participating in local networking events will likely put you in touch with people who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. The more events you attend, the greater chances you have of increasing your sales and improving your bottom line.
Greater Visibility – Networking locally will help you become better known in your community and give your business greater visibility. The more you participate the larger your customer base will be and the longer you can be branded in your community.
Actionable Tips for Creating a Local Network
Now that you understand some of the reasons why you should work toward building a solid local network, let’s discuss a few ways to help you get it done.
Define Your Goals - While you can join any and every business group out there, there are only so many hours in your schedule to commit to networking. A good idea is to first define your business goals so you can make an informed decision about which networking groups to participate in. Only become involved in the groups that will help you reach those goals.
Offer Your Time – Attending networking events is one thing, but volunteering your time is a great way to make you and your business stand out in your local community.
Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready – Throughout your networking life, you will be asked hundreds of times what it is that you do. Be ready to give an informed and succinct response that will organically open the door to further discussion. Take time to perfect your elevator pitch to make your networking efforts easier and more efficient.
Be Genuine – Networking means nothing if you are building relationships that are not based in trust. The more genuine and authentic you are, the more people will recognize you as trustworthy and someone they want to do business with.
Ask Questions – Be the person who gets the conversations started. Asking questions not only engages thoughtful dialogue, it shows a genuine interest on your part which is very attractive to people. As the conversation progresses, slowly work in how you can help them.
Make the First Contact – During networking events you will meet many people and collect many business cards. Don’t wait for a week or more to pass by, make it a point to call or email your new contacts the following day to say how much you enjoyed the conversation. This will leave a great impression and one that will be remembered.
Local networking is the lifeblood of any business and offers strategies and points of entry to excel your product or service into the global arena. It may take some time and effort, but entrepreneurs who make a commitment to networking will see their business grow exponentially. Remember, the more trust you gain and the more genuine interest you have in others, the more potential your business has of outshining the competition.
About the Author
This guest post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin is a writer and editor who covers topics related to SPHR certification programs. She also writes about PHR Certification for the University Alliance.