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How to Network for the Small Business

Updated on June 20, 2012
Your Network
Your Network

When you hear the phrase, 'you need to network more' what picture does that conjure up in your mind? Is it the one of the extrovert pushy salesman/woman type, shaking hands with everyone they meet, talking eagerly about their business to whoever they see as a potential target?

You can still network without been seen as a pushy salesman/woman type. The trick is to network without it being obvious that is what you’re trying to do. The key aim of networking is to create a pool of contacts from which you can draw clients, referrals, resources, ideas and information. You are not trying to actively sell your product or service to these contacts.

Don't be anxious, here are 7 easy ways to network without being seen as that pushy salesman/woman type:

1. Identify referral partners: Look out for people who serve the same clients/customers as you do. Some people get most of their business from this type of referral. It’s much easier for you to get someone to give you a reference than to sell a service to them, especially where there is a level of trust between you.

2. Exchange materials:an easy step to take with potential referral partners. Send them your materials and ask for theirs.

3. Offer to take a contact out for lunch or simply arrange to have a coffee with them. Your goal is to get them to know, like, and trust you.

4. Arrange an office visit: Make a date to visit your potential referral partners in their office. This takes little effort on their part and you'll get a good idea of their operations and ethos.

5. Serve on committees: Join your chamber of commerce or association that represents your industry or business type. This can be a relationship-building strategy , a visibility strategy or both depending on the type of committee.

6. Share resources: Don't be selfish, become the person with the gold contacts book. Share your resources with others so you can call on them when you need contacts or information.

7. Read: Keep up-to-date with your journals, newsletters or websites so you always know what's going on in your business area. You might spot opportunities others don't even see. You can even find leads from these resources too.

Networking doesn’t have to be too demanding and you don’t need to be a special type of person to network.

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