How to Network Your Way to New Business Contacts


by Kristi Patrice Carter

So, you just opened up your new entrepreneurial business - well, "Congratulations". It is now time for you to get out there and network. Yes, networking is not just for getting jobs. It is also a great way to market your new business venture. It is a great way for you to meet many new people, get your name out there, and also to have fun. It doesn't matter if you're the owner of a graphic design business, toy store, or pet supply company - networking can help you find invaluable contacts, get clients and build solid relationships!

Think of it this way, how many times have you used a dentist or even a hairdresser from a referral made by a family member or friend? Now, compare that with how many times you have used a referral from the phone book or an advertisement. There's no comparison, right? That's because people typically use the services of people they trust or from people their family or friends trust and networking allows you to do just that! So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and make those contacts and watch your business magically grow.

Now that you know the benefits of networking, you might not know how to go about it. Well, here are six proven tips to help you jump-start your networking campaign.

  1. Be Open to Possibilities and Meet New People. Be open and receptive at all times. Networking possibilities are all over the place. Simply go to the grocery/drug store, take your dog for a walk, or even go fishing and you'll definitely meet people that you can network with. Get out there and meet new people every chance you get. Be an extrovert. Truly open up and use those savvy interpersonal skills wherever you go. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with strangers. In fact, if you ask someone about himself, then they'll most likely ask you about yourself and viola, you've magically made a contact that could prove to be very beneficial.
     
  2. Join Direct Marketing Club or Appropriate Associations. There are all types of direct marketing associations. Those that allow you to meet people who are interested in the things that you are interested in. Another option is to join an association. For instance, if you're a journalist, you might consider joining the National Association of Journalist.
     
  3. Meet with your buddies. That's right. And, if that still doesn't interest you, simply call all your friends and family members and invite them out to lunch (one on one or as a group). By doing this, you can knock out two birds with one stone. You can enjoy their company and casually network with them about your new business venture.
     
  4. Always Carry Business Cards. A man or woman without business cards is like a fish out of water. It won't work for you. Always, always, always carry around your business cards wherever you go and when someone asks for one, give them three, one for themselves and two for someone else who might need your services. Make sure that your business cards are memorable. You might even consider adding a picture or a calendar or make them into a magnet. That way, they won't get thrown away easily.
     
  5. Follow Up. Once someone shows interest in your business then follow up with him or her. Send them a card or a coupon and immediately input their information into your contact list. That way, you can be assured that you and your business stays on their minds and that they think of you whenever they need whatever it is that you're offering.
     
  6. Don't Get Discouraged and Have Fun. Whenever you're networking. Have fun and don't get discouraged. Always stay focused on the task at hand and remember that networking and marketing your business should be fun. Building a solid contact base takes time and it also takes time for your business to grow. Simply remember that your purpose is to have fun, meet new people and make great contacts.


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About the Author

Kristi Patrice Carter is an experienced marketing consultant and copywriter, a published author, and she owns barterforsuccess.com, a online bartering website and two successful online writing businesses (kpcresumes.com and kpcmarketing.com). Her book, Fire Your Boss and Hire Yourself, is being featured on (freelanceyourway.com).



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