5 Top Networking Tips for Small Businesses

 

Entrepreneurs are often looking for ways to promote their new businesses.  On March 18, the local YOB (Your Own Business) Fair will be a place where Arizona business owners can go to find out tips to help them promote their business.  I will have a booth there and I hope you will join me.  In the meantime, please check out some of the top networking tips that small businesses should be considering in order to succeed: 

  1. Find out where your customers are and connect to them through social networking.  It is important to network with as many people as you can, but remember to try and focus on those that have connections.  Spend some time looking through contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter to see who your friends and contacts know.  Get into groups on sites like LinkedIn and start threads about topics that would be of interest to people you’d like to target as customers.  Become an expert in the Q&A area on LinkedIn as well.  Create Facebook pages for your company and products.  Link your sites together so that your updates get posted to all of your social networking sites.  If you don’t know where to begin to learn how to social network, check out letsgetsocial.com for a reasonably priced series of videos to show you how to become social-networking savvy.  If you have the funds, you could hire a social media expert to do it for you.
  2. Give people something so that they will want to come to your site.  If you aren’t on Youtube, you need to be.  Create several short (3-4 minute) videos offering people something for free and post them on Youtube.  End your video with a link to your landing page to have them sign up for a free newsletter or some other free item.  This will allow you to capture their email address and get them on your mailing list in a legitimate way.  The videos do not have to be fancy.  A simple video camera can create all you need.  You can also make a PowerPoint presentation and then overlay it with Camtasia so that your file has your voice and presentation without necessarily having to have a video of your face if that makes you more comfortable.  You can upload the file to Youtube and also link to it from your website and/or blog. 
  3. Ask for word of mouth.  One of the best ways to get noticed is to have people talk about your business.  If you aren’t asking your satisfied customers to tell other people about you, then you are missing the boat.  Happy customers are usually more than willing to tell others about you if you ask them to do so.  Many just haven’t considered it until it is brought up.  Ask people if they know people who could use your service.  If they do, ask them if they will tell people about you and give them your cards or flyers to give to these people. Remember to ask people to do things based on assessing their level of comfort.  Part of connecting with others is to understand individual personalities
  4. Keep records of contacts you make.  If you have a software package like ACT! or Outlook, you can keep notes there.  Keep a record of everyone you meet and make notes about everything you know about them.  Every time you meet someone new, find out something about them that you can write down into your file and bring up later.   If you can figure out their birthday from Facebook, always send them a note saying “happy birthday”.  Find reasons to stay in contact.  Put notes into your calendar reminding yourself to drop a note, asking if the baby was born yet or how the wedding went.  Showing an interest in people draws them closer to you.  Avoid promoting your products and yourself in all outgoing messages.  Make it be about them or give them information that helps them and makes them want to come back to you.    
  5. Be a resource or mentor.  Find ways to offer your services for free to others and it will bring people back to you later.  On LinkedIn, you can answer questions in the Q&A room to help others and get recognized.  Join local groups and volunteer to do things to become noticed.  People remember kindness and are more willing to give out your name to others if they associate you with good things. 
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