In case you are wondering, the “network” in the title is not about network cards, hubs, or routers - it’s about human communications.
Small businesses everywhere has always been concerned about their budgets. Yet, they need publicity. How can that be accomplished without burning hard earned dollars through marketing and advertising?
Networking! The greatest and cheapest form of marketing tool that is available to any SME.
People who are good at networking often manage to pull in more business for their companies than those without. And best of all, it is free.
Rules of the game
So how do you play the game? Perhaps the word “game” gives the impression that it is simple. It is not. There are requirements to be met, and if you fail to meet them, you may end up spending valuable time without getting any return on your investment.
Rule 1: What goes around, comes around
People who are good at networking generally have a positive and supportive attitude. In the increasingly digital world where businesses are conducted, many SMEs are finding themselves cut off from one another because they are not connected online.
Also, good networkers generally provide a positive and supportive environment to other business people. In plain simple terms, when one gives business to others, they will do the same. And this will reap better results for both. So don't treat your email correspondents lightly because they do mean business!
Rule 2: Effective use of communications tools
What tools or “weapons” do good networkers equip themselves with when they do battles on the networking grounds? Business cards! There are numerous occasions where business people find themselves attending business functions without the small but essential “weapons” and thus, lose the business opportunity. Business cards are the most inexpensive way to market a SME and will always be a vital tool for references. Beaming data files via infra-red ports on palms and organizers is another great example of exchanging and storing vital information. Creating and using templates for exchanging business information via email is another great way to use the Net efficiently.
Rule 3: Networking is not a God given skill
Good networking skill is not something someone is born with. Networking is a skill that is acquired through constant learning. Every single opportunity that allows you to learn networking should not be missed. Listen to tapes of such nature or read up on it. The best way to learn networking is through example. Identify good networkers which should be easy, since they will stand out in a crowd and chances are, you will be impressed by them. Observe how they go about establishing contacts for their company and learn to apply the tactics on your own. You may surprise yourself at the results that you will achieve.