By: Teena Avery—Elegant Professional Events & Marketing

We are constantly bombarded with emails, social media updates, special offers and advertising, it is overwhelming and often times one company’s message will not stand out amongst the masses. Networking is about building relationships and making connections that will last and be mutually beneficial. These relationships will allow both you and your business to stand out, and rise above the masses and most importantly put you in the forefront of others minds.

People do business with those they like and trust. To succeed you must continually connect with new people, build on your relationships and leverage your network.

Remember – Networking is not selling

Put that thought out of your head. In fact, it’s the opposite. Networking has an interesting place in the business
process. It’s not really marketing, though it’s part of your marketing process. It’s not really selling but it’s
part of your selling process. So it sits in this strange middle ground between marketing and sales.

Networking presents opportunities to meet new people who might become customers. It is also an opportunity
to connect with people who might know others who could become your customers. At the same time it is
an opportunity to reconnect with existing customers or to stay connected to your referral partners.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that the lifeline of their business can be found in making the right connections
for business growth. For some it is an easier, comfortable process but for many people, it is more difficult
and not in their comfort zone.

So lets start with the basics:

1. Make a plan—When you started your business you started with a plan, this is no different. You can not
leave things up to chance. Ask yourself a few questions. Where can I find opportunities to connect with
like minded businesses? What will help me grow as an entrepreneur? How can I connect with them?
What do I want other business owners to know about my business? Know you answers to these
questions and commit to some networking opportunities.

2. Be Selective—Your time is important, look for events that feed your business and mind. Be strategic in
your outreach and target your efforts towards connections that will help your business grow.

3. Make a real connection– The goal is not to get as many business cards as you can, but to make quality
connections. It is important to be genuine and honest. Yes social media allows us to keep connected,
that is important , but that is not a relationship. Relationships will sustain a business for the long term.
In order to develop a relationship it takes face to face communication, nurturing, and time.
4. Build and keep your network current- It is so easy these days to build contacts and connections
with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Use it often to update, share, congratulate and connect.

5. Pay it forward – Your success will grow as you help others to grow and be successful. Not every
connection you make will benefit your business directly but it is important to help others to achieve.
Introduce your connections to potential clients, recommend them, offer help and suggestions, and send
business their way. It is a characteristic of leadership that will set you apart.

The art of networking is one with many rewards. Work on mastering this skill set and opportunities to grow
will appear. You will be enriched by the relationships you make as you help others to achieve their goals while
meeting your own objectives.