Whether you are seeking to buy or sell a business, networking can be an invaluable resource to gain both perspective and information.
The overall importance of not “being an island,” but rather being actively involved in both your local business community and local area community is imperative to be sure that people know that your business exists and understand your business benefits and value.
Become an Ambassador of Your Business -- Online
Being a visible source of information, advice, helpful tips, etc. gets you noticed in a good way. You want to be perceived as an experienced expert in your field. Each day…and multiple times throughout the day…be involved in online communities. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the most responsive outlets but once you realize where the majority of new leads are emanating from, frequent those few online venues so that your networking does not eat up your day.
Search out groups in places such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Meetup, local newspapers, local chambers, and local community groups. Many groups have both in-person as well as online opportunities to network.
When you post a question or a tip be a moderator of your posting. Don’t just post it and abandon it. Answer any comments, post follow up tips or other questions and keep the conversation going.
Actively invite customers and associates to write testimonials on your social media. You will be surprised how willing people are to post reviews and recommendations if you just ask for them.
Take pictures and video of yourself at events, business functions, meetings, trainings, etc. and post them on your social media and your website. Show that you are “out there” and involved.
Contact your local newspapers, trade associations, and any local blogs. Ask to write informative (not promotional) articles related to your business category. Most local online publications are looking for contributors to fill their content needs. Let them know that when the articles are posted you will be placing the links up on your web and social media. Again, most are looking to expand their link building and they will welcome your efforts to help them get their own word out.
Become an Ambassador of Your Business -- Offline
To be a great networker you need cultivate an attitude of engagement. By actively engaging with people at every opportunity you will expand your network simply by taking to the people you meet each day.
But—and here is the caveat—don’t sell at every given opportunity. Seek to be a problem solver, a sharer of information, and a consultant. Give your quick “elevator pitch” (one sentence summary of your business and its value proposition) and then ask questions to determine the need for your services. Whether the person in front of you needs your business or not they may recommend you down the line. Come off as a helpful resource and those recommendations will flow more frequently.
Never let any interaction go by without being an ambassador for your business. You never know who is a business prospect. Whether you are attending a business function, or standing in line to get coffee, you will never know who is a viable prospect unless you engage with them.