Nice (but very) short article about networking related to small businesses.
By COLLEEN DEBAISE
Adapted from the upcoming book THE WALL STREET JOURNAL COMPLETE SMALL BUSINESS GUIDEBOOK (Three Rivers Press, Dec. 29, 2009).
In business, as they say, it's not what you know but whom you know.
Networking is one of the most valuable (and inexpensive) forms of marketing. Many successful business owners are master networkers who can walk into a room full of strangers, make a connection and handily attract a new client, partner or investor.
While it helps to be naturally outgoing, networking is a skill that can be learned. First, it's necessary to get yourself in the right spot— and that means interacting with people who can potentially help your business. Attend a conference, trade show or social event where you can meet people who either need your product or service or know someone who might. Consider throwing the party yourself at your home, your place of business or a local bar or restaurant.
How to get the conversation flowing without sounding overly aggressive? Here are some tips.
Forget the artificial sales pitch. Keep the conversation natural. Share information about you and your company, but not in a way that's canned. Asking other people questions about themselves, too, creates opportunities to share what you're doing without the conversation seeming like it's all about me-me-me.
Communicate your passion. Not only can you win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service, but an upbeat manner is often contagious. Getting other people to share their passion, too, helps create a memorable two-way conversation.
Don't commandeer the conversation. The most successful networkers are charismatic people who make the person they're speaking to feel special. Look other people in the eye, really listen to what they have to say and guide them to topics they want to talk about.
Keep in touch. You'll likely end up exchanging business cards— but that's where this new relationship starts, not ends. Make sure to call or send follow-up e-mails or notes with a reminder about what you can do for them.
Small Business Tips: How to Network – Live & In Person - WSJ.com: "How to Network – Live & In Person"