Networking opportunities are everywhere.

"You had me at hello," those famous words from the movie Jerry McGuire let Tom Cruise know that Rene Zellweger's character was hooked from that point and the rest of his talking was unnecessary. When in networking situations, many small business owners leave people with a slightly different feeling. If questioned for the truth, what would likely be said is, "you bored me at hello!" That is definitely not a great way to grow your business into a powerful name brand. Networking works, but not if you leave your prospects bored.

Networking opportunities are everywhere. You can find them at Chamber of Commerce and member association events, seminars, conferences, even when you are in line at the supermarket. There are groups of people who regularly meet solely for the purpose of networking. Unfortunately, all of the networking opportunities in the world will not help grow your business unless people remember you and your company after you are gone.

Business networking is an art form, and one that the entrepreneurs among us especially, should master in order to build relationships. Relationships are an invaluable commodity. Our ability to develop and nurture them is what can potentially make or break us in our effort to grow and develop personally and in business.

All entrepreneurs are encouraged to build networking relationships that would allow them to capitalize on emerging opportunities. A good starting point for laying the foundations of networking lies within the circle of family, friends and key influencers. Business success depends largely on being able to spread the word about their products and services. This is one of the first techniques which must be mastered in network building. Remember however that attention spans are short and getting shorter. Your message must therefore be short, simple and to the point to avoid persons rom tuning out. Limit what you talk about so you don’t risk losing someone’s attention and listen. Sincerely listening to what the other person has to say will leave them with high regard for you and your business.

Being alert and open to unscheduled opportunities to ask questions about consumer needs is also critical. This can better position the business to offer a solution with their goods and services.

Following through on these techniques will however require an entrepreneur to overcome any fears, to believe in the quality of his/her companies offerings and to cultivate the social confidence and boldness necessary to share ideas. Other key requirements are building trust and moving with speed in seizing emerging opportunities. A commitment to being more organized, disciplined and trustworthy and to better manage conflict could also go a long way.

Networking is simply a matter of sharing challenges and success, aspirations, ideas and opinions, experiences and knowledge, and understanding and tolerating differences in others. Our relationships help to determine how we grow and as such, every effort should be made to foster and build only nurturing relationships.

So go out and network.  Who knows, you may end up meeting prospective leads, clients, future employees, a mentor or even a business partner.



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