Grow Your Network Without the Usual Handshaking
DIY Sprocket Solutions
Networking can be hard even when we aren’t required to socially distance – especially for those of us who aren’t comfortable with putting ourselves out there. But since contacts don’t generally fall out of the sky, building a network is vitally important to growing our businesses.
These days we are challenged more than ever to make connections. Events specifically set up for networking are great avenues to utilize, and while they tend to be online, events still being held. But as with anything, there are a few down sides. It can be tough to make an impression when everyone attending is also trying to promote themselves. I’m not saying that people can’t or don’t make real connections at these events – because they do! – it’s just that with so many other people nervously trying to get their name out there, they may not be able to recall yours.
So what’s a savvy business person to do? Quit? Of course not! You live your life. You join an online book club, you attend your homeowners association meeting, you commiserate with fellow parents in the school Facebook group – whatever you normally do, you keep doing it. But you do it with one small change: You make an effort to engage.
There are plenty of opportunities during your regular routine to get a conversation going and it’s not that hard to work your business into it. You may not be at a sanctioned networking event, but that also means you have way less competition. Ask about the logo on their shirts or jackets which could be from their own companies. Offer tips from your local chamber of commerce or SCORE organization. You’re not trying to make an immediate sale, you just want to familiarize folks with your brand.
For in-person meetings, be sure you have business cards with you at all times, but while we’re still working with COVID-19 restrictions, you may have to be more creative with your leave-behind. Maybe take a photo of their business card or have them take a one of yours. And don’t forget to put your business info in your email signature.
You can find some great connections in the most unconventional places. You just have to be willing to look, willing to talk, and willing to gracefully back away if they aren’t interested. Think of it like dating. No one likes an overly pushy person, but when someone shows a real interest, a connection happens quite naturally.
While you’re reaching out, you’ll want to be sure that people will be able to find you again when they need your product or service. Of course these days that means a good digital presence! Is your branding consistent over all your online profiles and your website easy to use on a mobile phone? That’s exactly what we can take care of for you, so if your brand needs some cleaning up, just give us a call to talk about how we can help!
This article is an update to “Unconventional Networking” dated 4/10/2013.