The 5 C’s of Business Networking

Edna B. Shearer

What’s the best way to market your small business? The best results mostly come from face to face business networking. As an enthusiastic and very successful networking expert, this form of marketing has been featured in various articles I have written on B2B information. However within networking, like all parts of business, changes happen and you can always learn new ways to become more and more effective in how you deliver your message.

So to honour of my favourite form of marketing, here are the 5 C’s of networking to help you achieve greater success:

C is for Create. Create opportunities. How? Think about how you start a conversation with a new connection at an event. What do you usually ask: “What do you do?” Are you not totally bored with this overly used networking chat up line? Next time you engage with a new business owner at an event, why not open up the conversation with this: “Tell me about your business…” or “What challenges are you facing right now/ “What recent success stories can you share?” These exchanges create opportunities to explore in greater depth, giving you the chance to find out more about how you can position your business solution.

C is for Consistency. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind” rings very true when it comes to networking. People who turn up once or only occasionally run the risk of being forgotten quickly and/or can be seen as not serious networkers. Admittedly not every style of networking meets with an individual’s personal choice. However successful networking is built upon reliable, strong relationships, which equals consistency. Good relationships take time and effort to develop and grow. Attend once and expect instant results? You’ve got to be kidding!

C is for Collaboration. Two heads are often better than one, so they say. Once you’ve established yourself in one or more networking groups that meet your objectives, it is a positive step to explore potential collaborative partnerships. Consider linking with others who do what you do, with a different slant/experience perhaps. Collaborations are ideal to expand thinking, to bolster support and motivation, and to enhance prospective work opportunities.

C is for Choice. One of my favourite things about being a self-employed networker is the fact that it is my choice with whom I connect and work with, and it is my choice as to the frequency of where and when I network. Choice allows you to be selective and it gives you a freedom which an employed networking professional typically doesn’t have.

C is for Connector. With networking as my primary focus to market my services, one thing I have learnt is to see networking as an opportunity to connect others. Rather than adopting a “selfish” attitude, however do have a strategy for what you want to achieve, think broadly when you speak with people and consider how you can connect them to other business owners you know. When you become known as a successful connector, people will flock to you and respect you for your knowledge, support and expertise.

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