So you run your own business and it is ticking along nicely. Where do you go from here? How do you expand? How do you learn new skills and techniques? How do you generate new leads?
In order for an SME to thrive, you need to make the most of expertise available: they say knowledge is power and in your case, it could be true. Well, the next question is where do you seek advice if you don’t know how?
You may find some of the answers you are looking for at a local small business networking event.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Understand what networking really is
Networking is a relationship – in its broadest sense is very simple, it’s about helping people. Remember this though; don’t go into these events with the ‘what is in it for me’ mentality. If you can, help others, you never know who you will meet and who they, in turn, can introduce you to.
- Have patience
Creating a network takes time and commitment; you will most likely have to attend more than one so don’t expect anything to happen overnight. Attending different events could be beneficial for you in the long run as there are a whole variety of themes and aspects about business that are covered within each network.
- Be respectful when you network
Don’t forget, there may be others like you, for whom this is a first time experience. When you’re talking to someone, be engaged and don’t be dismissive. The person you are speaking to is passionate about their area and has sought you out for a reason. Be honest with your answers, if you can’t help someone, say so.
- Reach out and be proactive
Don’t be shy – unless you ask for help and advice, you simply won’t get any. Attempt to form mutually beneficial relationships and get as many opinions as possible. If you have knowledge about a particular area, try to find someone who has the knowledge you require and help each other out.
Remember that asking for help in business is not a sign of weakness – so get out there and get networking!