Better networking skills for small business owners

Lead generation marketing is one of the biggest and most important aspects of operations and marketing strategies for small business. With a limited audience and consumer base to begin with, these owners need to reach out to and tap every channel of potential customers that they can find. Growing a business organically can be a challenge, but these owners also have access to unique platforms and opportunities. One of the best methods of doing so is through effective networking within your community or industry. Here are some tips on how to successfully navigate the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups and businesses.

Know your desired audience
Some networking experts will recommend talking to anyone and everyone whenever possible, or as the old adage of sales goes, Always Be Closing. However, simply spouting off about your goods and services at every opportunity is likely to result in overkill and a whole lot of noise. Instead, Marketing Zeus recommends researching your target audience. Talking to an audience member for whom your product has absolutely no relevance is ultimately a waste of time. Instead, take the time to establish your brand with the right people by providing useful information and invoking a heightened sense of awareness and expertise around your service.

Look for public events to attend
Part of finding the right audience to talk to is knowing where to find them in the first place. To this end, Neighborhood Notes suggests browsing through a wide swath of events that might be of interest for both your business and your potential audience. Attending these events gives you a chance to talk to like-minded individuals and pass out business cards. Additionally, many events require invitations, so attending these public events in the first place is a great way of snowballing your invite list for the future.

Develop social skills
As with any other form of socializing and relationship-building, there are several basic social skills that are absolutely essential in any networking opportunity. These include maintaining a positive attitude, being conversational and interesting and avoiding overly-pushy or business-oriented behavior. Additionally, Marketing Zeus recommends avoiding the use of business jargon or buzzwords altogether unless they are necessary in the flow of conversation and to ask open-ended and thought-provoking questions that lead to further conversation.

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