There are four key factors to ensuring that your business will be successful: having a good product or service, maintaining it appropriately, having a solid marketing strategy with quality collateral, and networking. While it is important to build a strong internal culture and present yourself to consumers in an engaging way, if you don’t successfully network with others in the corporate world, you’ll find yourself at a distinct disadvantage to other players in the market. In this regard, personal development is just as important as moving forward in your business. Taking time to formulate a strong networking strategy will be greatly beneficial.
Tokens of appreciation.
Consider offering your prospective partners small, branded items. It may seem strange to lead with something materialistic but when you think about the benefits you can gain, having a selection of corporate gifts as part of your arsenal can exponentially increase your chances of making lasting connections. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t just apply to your marketing but to your overall business presence, so providing partners and prospects with something useful to remember you by might just be what lands you your next big contract. Keep things simple and professional in manner and remember to give a gift appropriate to the context of the relationship you’re trying to build.
Yes, you need to represent your brand and behave accordingly but people are going to notice if you’re acting fake or don’t believe in what you’re saying. This is easier if you own the business because logically it will align with your values. But, if you’re a bit further down the food chain, you may not genuinely agree with everything. While this is normal and you can’t please everyone, you need to find aspects that you’re passionate about in order for your personality, product or service and overall presentation to shine. Strive for authenticity, honesty, and integrity in all things and your networking will run far more smoothly.
Utilize your digital identity.
Just because most online business connections are formed through platforms like LinkedIn doesn’t mean this is the only way to leverage your online presence. Showcase things that you’re proud of across your digital accounts and keep your community in the loop. This will help both consumers and those you interact with on a professional level feel valued and create greater opportunities for engagement and relationship building. By the same token, ensure that your marketing collateral is of high quality and on-brand so it can be seamlessly woven into your overall strategy and identity.
Be short but not rude.
Try to take as little time as possible from your desired connections schedule. You don’t want to rush things or seem rude and dismissive but conversations that drag out are just as annoying professionally as they are personally. Keep your interaction polite and concise and consider booking in a meeting if you want to go into details that are complex or time-consuming.
Networking takes work; that’s why it has its name, but if you do it correctly, and authentically, it can make a world of difference for both you and your business. Remember to be yourself, have a game plan going into your conversation, and actively listen to what the other party is saying. Answer any questions completely and truthfully and follow up where appropriate. Good luck with your ventures.