Affordable Marketing Ideas II – Networking and becoming a people person.

Remember the good old days? Once upon a time you could open a business if you had a specific skill or product to sell, tell your friends and neighbors, and this essentially ended the efforts you would need to put into networking and referrals. There was enough of the pie available that everyone could have their share and make a living. If you are like me and had not been born yet during this time, you know that starting a successful small business involves hard work, investing some time and money, and real solid networking and relationship building.

In Affordable Marketing Ideas I, I discussed many affordable ways to market your small business online. When marketing your small business, it is important to NOT put all your eggs in one basket. I now look forward to sharing with you the importance of business networking and becoming a people person.

Networking. People are facing an overload of advertisements. There are ads on the TV, on the radio, in the newspaper, in the magazines, on public transportation, on cars, in your mailbox, on billboards… and I even saw a picture of one on a sewer. Due to this ad overload, it is becoming increasingly important to build relationships with people within the community through networking.

One form of networking is the type of networking you can do through the small business center and chamber of commerce. I call this general networking. This type of networking is when you get together with other business individuals looking to build relationships with each other. A large number of small businesses show up to these events. For the SBC, all you have to do is pre register and pay the fee which is $8 cash for most events. For the Chamber, you must be a paying member although existing members can bring guests. The key with this kind of networking is you want to attend nearly every month to the Small Business Center’s Networking Wednesday event and/or to the Chamber of Commerce’s Business After 5 event. It will normally take you 2-3 events to have any kind of connection with somebody. Over time, this type of networking will help establish you within the business community which should generate leads (and hopefully friendships) over time.

 Another type of networking is what I call group networking. There are many smaller networking groups in the city of London. Many of them allow only one person per industry so there is no competition within the group. Most charge a small fee to be involved in the group. Examples of these networking groups include: Business Club of London, Saleboat Networking Group and BNI Canada among many others. The one downside with these groups is often the established groups have your industry spot filled and the ones that are growing only offer a limited amount of connections as they continue to grow. If you are lucky enough to get into an established group or into a group that ends up being successful, this will surely attribute to the long term success of your small business.

Be a people person. One of the most important skills you can learn in business in life is the skill of being a people person. For the purposes of this article, I will talk about how this ties in with successful networking. 

Move out of your comfort zone. I am not naturally a people person. I am naturally a very introverted and shy person. I learned through working at a call center and a bar a bit about speaking with people, but I want everyone to understand that you will not be the only shy person at a networking event. In order to become a people person, you must move out of your comfort zone by frequently attending networking events.  

Include the new and excluded. The first time I attended a networking event, I met someone who included me. I felt like a grade 9 coming to a new school in a new city and was lucky enough to have the first person I met be very welcoming and friendly. He also made me feel included by introducing me to some people he knew. Imagine the impact that might have on someone. As you see with me, including the new and excluded is a great way to make a business connection. If you see somebody who appears to be looking for a group to join and network with, try to include them. This is a memorable gesture that everyone will normally appreciate. Not only does the person joining your group feel welcome, but it will also make you seem like a kind/open/good person. Who doesn’t want to do business with that kind of person?

Be an upbeat and pleasant person. If you’re not already upbeat and in a good mood, make some time before a networking event to do something that will get you in a better mood. Try watching this local Youtube sensation: Mommy’s Nose is Scary! Everyone prefers the company of somebody who is upbeat and a little bit enthusiastic, as long as they are being realisticly upbeat. The attitude is often contagious and when people associate you as someone who makes them feel good, that is just good for business.  

Be respectful and polite. Again, this may seem like a small detail but it is the very basics of becoming a people person. Having good manners just means being mindful of very basic things such as saying please and thank you and don’t talk if you have a mouth full of food. Being respectful means a lot of different things, but I am referring to the basics like looking people in the eye, and generally acknowledging that their presence is wanted and welcome. People will (generally) reciprocate good manners and a respectful personality, which ultimately is a good thing for everyone involved.  

Talk about/be interested in others. This is a task that will be perfected over time. If you have trouble knowing what to say (as I frequently do) here are some things you could ask/talk about:

What do you do? – This will help you learn about products and services they offer.

How did you get into that business? – This will help you learn about their background and what interests them.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Do you have any good business lessons you have learned through this _____? (school, small business center event, chamber of commerce event, networking group, etc.)

If you feel a connection with someone, you may also consider dabbling in positive/light hearted conversations about sports, children, music and movies.

This article has been pretty long and if you stuck around for this long… good for you! You are taking your business seriously and small details like getting into networking and learning how to become a people person are the things that will add up and help you become a successful business person.

As always, your feedback on this article is both welcomed and appreciated.


Thank you to Sara Vandenakker from Stage Coach Home Staging for providing advice that was used for this article. At Stage Coach, merchandising a home is about appealing to the target buyer; it is about competition and always ensuring that a Stage Coach home will out-do the competitive listings; it is about making decisions based on ROI and knowing buyer expectations. Merchandising a house is many things before it is “fluffing” or simply “staging” – this is the Stage Coach difference.

 

About The Author

Derrick

At LOWD Media, we specialize in supporting entrepreneurs. We understand inspired entrepreneurs and business minded individuals. We then use this understanding to learn about your business and help you create a look and feel for your business – your brand identity. Our business startup packages provide everything you need to begin marketing your business effectively and at an affordable price. Once you begin marketing and growing your business, we strive to support you and grow with you. Long term success for your business means long term success for our business. Let your brand be heard loud and clear with LOWD.

1 Comment

  • admin

    Reply Reply March 22, 2011

    Thank you to Sara Vandenakker from Stage Coach Home Staging for providing advice that was used for this article. At Stage Coach, merchandising a home is about appealing to the target buyer; it is about competition and always ensuring that a Stage Coach home will out-do the competitive listings; it is about making decisions based on ROI and knowing buyer expectations. Merchandising a house is many things before it is “fluffing” or simply “staging” – this is the Stage Coach difference.

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