Being a business owner is something I've always wanted. It is the thrill of assuming the leadership role, the responsibility for providing a great service, and forming and fostering relationships with both my team and the potential clients. I love meeting people and making new friends but I get quite uncomfortable in a setting where I'm expected to make a pitch. I know that Ronii shares that feeling with me (this is why we need to rely on our business development team.) I've always felt that poor networking causes more harm than good for a business. You never get to make a first impression twice, right?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, networking is " the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business." You heard it. We simply can't function without creating and maintaining business relationships and it doesn't help if our efforts produce no results.
In addition to being selective to which events attend and which groups to join, I find that it helps me to always prepare for a networking event as if I were doing it for the first time. I always think about who my audience is going to be at that event and what my goal is. Then, I revise that good old elevator speech to make sure it is relevant to that group of people to get their attention. I go in with no expectations to meet a client. Rather, I hope to meet people I want to see again. Once I have my business cards, I follow up and ask to meet for coffee because as Ronii always says, "You just never know!"
I leave the sales part to my business development team because I don't like to do it and I admitted it a long time ago. I prefer to focus my time and energy on getting recognition and making connections that will help me serve my clients better in the future.
Happy networking everyone!