Many small businesses start out strong, then lose momentum. The businesses that remain successful can attribute a large part of their success to networking. First Act Accounting owner Dawn, who just celebrated her 5th year in business, is a strong believer in the power of making valuable, long-lasting connections to drive business.
Curious as to how Dawn excels at networking? Here are her top 4 secrets on how to be a successful networker and to promote your business at networking functions.
1. Be a guest first.
Before you decide to join any group, attend some meetings as a guest. This way you can test out whether or not the group will be a good fit for you and your business.
2. Consider all costs.
Membership fees are an important aspect to consider when deciding to join a group. Some groups don’t have any membership fees, but if they do, it’s important to decide whether or not the value makes financial sense for your business.
Are there meeting costs as well as membership fees? Calculate to make sure all costs fit into your annual networking budget. Be aware: some organizations use a fee scale based on the number of employees working for your company. Thoroughly consider all financial aspects of a group before you decide to join!
3. Don’t limit your connections.
All groups have their limitations, but some may be more limiting than others. For instance, certain groups are exclusive in their areas of expertise. Will you fit into this area? Or will this limitation restrict what input you can give the group? Also, keep in mind that though limiting the specific types of members (accountants for example) may eliminate competition, it can simultaneously limit members’ input due to lack of interest correlation.
4. Be a social butterfly, not a wall flower.
Don’t forget to work the room! Sit-down meetings foster more communication and intimate connections than happy hour type gatherings. In addition, you might find it beneficial to approach people you haven’t met before in order to expand your networking base. If large groups seem a little too intimidating, start by introducing yourself to the person sitting next to you.
Just remember, “the opposite of networking is NOT working.” Feel free to call, email, Facebook message, or Tweet at us anytime and we will be happy to assist you with any further inquiries networking or accounting related.