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The Importance of Networking for Small Business Leaders

December 26th, 2016 Comments off
Two cheerful business people drinking champagne and talking while other people communicating in the background

Looking for an inexpensive, efficient way to increase awareness of your small business? Upping networking efforts could be the answer. While this activity might not be anyone’s favorite, its importance cannot be denied. Word-of-mouth builds your brand among business peers, potential clients, prospective employees, and the community at large. Additionally, developing a network of professionals to reach out to for advice and support can be a lifesaver for a small business owner when confronted with new challenges.

Ready to take advantage of all the possibilities a stronger network can offer? Use these tips to get started:

Get out there

Professional association gatherings, industry conferences, Chamber of Commerce events – plenty of opportunities exist to meet others and tell them about your small business. Visibility creates recognition and encourages trust. People like to do business with someone they know, so face-time can have huge returns.

Some of the best networking develops outside of the “corporate” sphere, so be ready to explain to anyone and everyone what your small business is all about. Chat with fellow parents prior to a PTA meeting. Converse with other golfers waiting for their tee time. Lend a hand to running a charity event in your neighborhood. The common purpose will help conversation flow naturally.

Social networking should be part of your strategy too, though experts generally recommend that it supplement in-person efforts rather than be a sole method. Use LinkedIn to learn more about people you meet, including who is in their circle and any mutual connections. Contribute thoughtfully to groups or chat boards — adding value comes off better than a hard sell. As you get to know members, work on bonding offline.

Follow up

Meeting people plants seeds, but to be truly fruitful, relationships must be nourished. Business cards gathered cannot collect dust. Take the lead by asking to join your new acquaintance’s LinkedIn network, picking up the phone to further discuss an issue of mutual interest, or sending an email expressing pleasure about having met. Keep people in your network top of mind; they’ll appreciate genuine efforts to help them out and be likely to reciprocate.

Enlist your staff

Finally, view networking not only as your responsibility but as something all members of your small business staff need to do. You may even want to stress from the get-go how vital you consider networking by including it in the job description for each and every employee.

Since skills such as breaking the ice or asking for referrals may not come naturally to everyone (including you), consider working on these abilities as a staff through role-playing exercises or bringing in an expert to offer pointers. Knowing what to do and say develops confidence, which in turn increases the odds of reaching out to others. As further motivation, implement a bonus system, such as a monetary reward for attracting a new customer or for accumulating a certain number of leads.

And for more ideas on how to strengthen your team’s networking efforts, discuss the issue with other small business leaders in your own network. They’ll likely be happy to share what has worked for them!


 

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

7 Do’s and Don’ts of Networking at SHRM

June 1st, 2015 Comments off
7 Do's and Don'ts of Networking at SHRM

It can be awkward and intimidating to be a guest at a party … especially if it’s a party of 15,000-plus in Vegas. Oh, and did we mention these are some of the smartest people in the entire world?

Lucky for you, we put together a handy list of do’s and don’ts to up your networking game — while avoiding awkwardness — at SHRM. So read up before you pack your bags.

1. DO study the agenda ahead of time so you can pick and choose your social events to make the most out of your time at SHRM. A little homework can go a long way.

2. DON’T ever think you’re too young or inexperienced to make a good impression and have a great time. Even if you’re a SHRM newbie, don’t be afraid to strut your stuff.

3. The number of unfamiliar faces you see can be overwhelming. When you walk into a room, DO find at least one of two friendly faces and approach them and just start talking.

4. DO walk around the exhibit floor during your breaks — not only will you have a chance to mingle with other attendees, but you can also win big. Come spin the wheel at CareerBuilder’s booth for a chance to win fabulous prizes and make some new friends!

5. DO plan your meals in groups. There are countless opportunities to dine out while networking, so please resist the temptation to curl up under the covers and settle for a TV dinner or spend time on your phone the whole time.

6. If you’re the outgoing type or you’re a SHRM pro, that can certainly work in your favor … but DON’T go all Kanye on everyone and try to steal the spotlight or someone else’s thunder.

7. DO make the most of social media at SHRM. Tweet/post/snap and connect with other attendees on Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels using the official SHRM hashtag.

Follow us on Twitter at @CBforEmployers as we bring you live coverage from SHRM. And keep an eye on the hashtag #SaaSyCB in the coming weeks as we’ll give you details to enter our t-shirt contest at SHRM – trust us, you won’t want to miss it!

7 Do’s and Don’ts of Networking at SHRM

June 1st, 2015 Comments off
7 Do's and Don'ts of Networking at SHRM

It can be awkward and intimidating to be a guest at a party … especially if it’s a party of 15,000-plus in Vegas. Oh, and did we mention these are some of the smartest people in the entire world?

Lucky for you, we put together a handy list of do’s and don’ts to up your networking game — while avoiding awkwardness — at SHRM. So read up before you pack your bags.

1. DO study the agenda ahead of time so you can pick and choose your social events to make the most out of your time at SHRM. A little homework can go a long way.

2. DON’T ever think you’re too young or inexperienced to make a good impression and have a great time. Even if you’re a SHRM newbie, don’t be afraid to strut your stuff.

3. The number of unfamiliar faces you see can be overwhelming. When you walk into a room, DO find at least one of two friendly faces and approach them and just start talking.

4. DO walk around the exhibit floor during your breaks — not only will you have a chance to mingle with other attendees, but you can also win big. Come spin the wheel at CareerBuilder’s booth for a chance to win fabulous prizes and make some new friends!

5. DO plan your meals in groups. There are countless opportunities to dine out while networking, so please resist the temptation to curl up under the covers and settle for a TV dinner or spend time on your phone the whole time.

6. If you’re the outgoing type or you’re a SHRM pro, that can certainly work in your favor … but DON’T go all Kanye on everyone and try to steal the spotlight or someone else’s thunder.

7. DO make the most of social media at SHRM. Tweet/post/snap and connect with other attendees on Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels using the official SHRM hashtag.

Follow us on Twitter at @CBforEmployers as we bring you live coverage from SHRM. And keep an eye on the hashtag #SaaSyCB in the coming weeks as we’ll give you details to enter our t-shirt contest at SHRM – trust us, you won’t want to miss it!