Summer will officially begin in a couple of weeks. Do you feel that’s a time to slack off on your business? After all, most potential clients will be away on vacation anyway.
It’s possible to meet people everywhere. They may not be prospects themselves but could be connected to others who are. You need to leave yourself open to the possibilities.
You already have connections that you can leverage, says Nierenberg, including friends and relatives, religious affiliations, social and business clubs, charities, business and professional associations and social media.
Building Your Network
The first step in building your network is to identify the people with whom you want to build new relationships, she says. You will already know many of them. They most likely include:
- Clients or customers
- Suppliers and vendors
- Co-workers and colleagues
- People in your profession and industry
- Like-minded people
- People you meet in “everyday life”
You may be thinking that you don’t have customers or clients or, if you do, they aren’t sources of new business. But the reality is that you’re constantly selling your ideas to others. Everyone, if effect, becomes a “customer” if they can lead you to new business.
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business and if you keep them happy they can also be your advocates by referring you to prospects.
Suppliers are excellent sources of referrals. Think of all the products and services you buy in your business and personal life. They could include your dry cleaner, hairdresser and even your doctor. Nierenberg gives a personal example of her IT consultant. As he was installing some software on her computer, he overheard her talking on the phone to a prospect.
It turns out the person she was talking to was her consultant’s childhood friend and he helped get her in the door. She returned the favor by introducing him to one of her strategic partners and now he’s doing that person’s computer work.
Be Willing to Give
Be willing to share your experience and expertise with those you are getting to know. You can’t think of networking as only getting. You have to give in order to receive. That may be a cliche, but it’s true. Seek out other professionals and offer to help their business grow. They will be glad to return the favor.
You’ve got to have a positive attitude towards networking. Rather than something you dread doing, think of networking as an exciting way to meet new people. Sure, some of them won’t be helpful. But you will meet many more that can become part of your growing network. Over time, many of these connections will lead to new business or a new job. Some will become personal friends.
“Each day holds amazing networking opportunities for you,” says Nierenberg. “It truly is a small world, and you never know what will come from the connections or contacts you make…of course, much of this has to do with our following up. Things happen when we take that action step after life has presented us with a variety of opportunities.”
So don’t let the summer months go by without strengthening your networks. The new people you meet and the old connections you revisit may be just what you need to jump-start your business.