Small businesses rely on networks of people to sell their products and services. By building a relationship with other people in your community, you can attract people to your small business, increase your profits and build up your business’s reputation. Of course, many people don’t know how to network, or if they do know how to network, they only know a few ways it can be done. These tips will help you build a network within your community.
Networking Can Happen Anywhere
Networking can happen inside and outside business hours, on lunch breaks, in lines and during random, everyday encounters. Get used to striking up conversations with strangers. If you’re able to mention your business during your conversations, all the better. Find creative ways to mention what you do, where you do it and who your customers are. The more people that know about you, the better.
You’ll Need an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a 30 second pitch that you can use to grab someone’s attention on the go. Your elevator pitch should inform people who want to know about the most important aspects of your business. Practice your elevator pitch many times until you can repeat it more or less from memory. If you produce a product, have pictures of your product always ready on your smart phone to be shared with anyone who is hearing your elevator pitch.
Your elevator pitch should be around 80 or 90 words, and should include a call to action at the end. What are you hoping to get out of your elevator pitch? Contact information? An appointment? A promise to call? Whatever it is that you’re trying to get from your pitch should be included at the end of the speech.
Carry Business Cards
Always have business cards on hand to hand out to people who you meet and people who solicit your information. Keep your business cards up to date with your title, cell phone number and office phone number. If your business card wasn’t designed by a professional, consider having it redesigned with your logo prominently displayed on the front of the card.
Become Active In the Community
People like to support businesses that support their community. Give back to the community by sponsoring events at local fairs and get-togethers. Attend town hall meetings in case something comes up that will affect your business personally. Donate money to local charities and participate in fund raisers for local groups like the band or social clubs.
Becoming active helps get your name out in the community. The more people have heard of your business, the more likely they are to stop in and buy products when they see your business location in the community. If your community has a local business owner’s association, consider joining. Not only will you have the chance to network while you’re participating in the group, but you’ll also get the added benefit of meeting other business owners who will also want to discuss what it’s like to own a business.
Keep At It!
Networking is something that most people get better at over time. Keep practicing while you’re out in the community to ensure that your business name is out there among your fellow citizens and peers.