Networking is certainly the most important part of my business and has been the key to my success thus far. My company may not be like yours, but what good company is not based on the owner and their outreach into the world or community as its’ foundation?
Word of mouth, trust and networking connections can make or break any business. One recent client met me when he sat next to me on an airplane, another I met at Women and Wine, while another client found me via Twitter. This is a small example of how multifaceted connection opportunities can help grow a business.
The picture above was taken last weekend in Alexandria, VA at the Milspouse Career Summit. I met Sue Hoppin, who founded the organization that sponsored the conference, briefly at another conference several years ago. We became online connected and she hired me to help her launch her organization and even brought me on board as her social media expert.
Tammy (featured in the picture above) and I have been virtual friends and run in many online circles for about eight years. I trusted her so much, that I brought her on board to do a very large online project for a client. We took the conference opportunity to room together and finally got to really bond in person. We also got to meet Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist (seen in this picture). We are anxious to work together some more in the future!
Why all this “Marsha Marsha Marsha” stuff (sorry), because networking and connecting has opened more doors for me than I ever imagined. I never even touched on my education or business model, but trust gained by personal connections that brought me opportunities. Just trying to share and hope others either receive confirmation of their networking prowess by this post or take a step back and change things up a bit from reading this post.
Here are my personal top 10 tips for Networking and Connecting:
1. Take value in EVERY formal or informal connection you have made or make. You just never know!
2. Think about how your social media digital footprint could negatively or positively impact your networking opportunities.
3. Consider virtual connections as real as those made in person.
4. Do not get caught up in so many networking opportunities that it distracts from your life or work mission. Be choosy!
5. Have Kick Ass business cards that stand out! Though we are in the electronic age, these are still a necessity.
6. Write notes on every business card you receive and send follow up emails or connect with them via social media (LinkedIn or more) after the connection.
7. DO NOT ever sell people in a casual setting! Talk to them and get to know them first, then they will be interested in what you have to offer.
8. You are always your own brand, in person or virtually. First and negative impressions are difficult for people to erase once they are embedded in their memory. Best foot forward at all times.
9. Be able to give your “elevator pitch” of what you do in no more than 2 sentences. The shorter the better.
10. Be yourself on and off line!
***Greta Perry is the owner of Kickify and is passionate about helping others improve their small business via online opportunities. She considers all clients friends and maintains relationships with them as part of her love for networking and connecting. Greta@kikcify.com