Networking. Synergy. Big Data. The Cloud.
Networking is more than a meaningless buzz word— it’s a vital aspect of running a successful business. Networking has the potential to be extra valuable in tight-knit communities like Upstate, S.C., where everyone is bound to know someone who knows someone who can be of value to your business.
When was the last time you made a business deal or gained a new client based on your website? What about through having a friendly conversation? We’ll bet the latter was more successful.
But as much as you might enjoy shootin’ the breeze with old business buddies, chances are, you don’t have much time to dedicate toward networking. In the midst of the day-to-day challenges that face every small business owner, it’s hard to even think about finding new business, let alone “network” to get it.
What if we told you you didn’t even have to leave your desk to accomplish your daily dose of networking?
That idea was described in a recent article from Fast Company, Five Networking Opportunities Hidden in Your Average Workday. Author Kelly Huey believes that networking— or building meaningful, person to person relationships— can happen with “each tap, tweet, post, message, and comment” that comes your way. So how can you take advantage of these numerous daily interactions?
Email is the New Business Card.
Huey emphasizes that emailing is a way to communicate to others how they can get in touch with you. Don’t make people search your name on LinkedIn or search your website to find the “contact” page just to find your phone number or office address.
Display basic contact information in your email signature. With emailing being a typical— sometimes even intrusive— part of our days, it’s smart to think about the impressions our email signatures make. Take a look at it with fresh eyes. Make sure it’s approachable and communicative.
If You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours… On LinkedIn.
Yes, yes, yes, we all know LinkedIn is supposed to be the Digital King of Networking. But no matter how many followers you have, or how many skills are listed on your profile, you aren’t really taking advantage of the LinkedIn platform until you start making regular updates. The great thing about LinkedIn is that the platform does a lot of the work for you: when you update your profile or share an article, LinkedIn will usually notify others prompting them to take a look.
Huey warns against being selfish: “updates are a chance to toot your own business horn—but just as the best networking isn’t all ‘me me me,’ you should also use updates to cross-sell your colleagues’ talents or promote the services of vendors you trust.” In other words, “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Thanking and complimenting others will get you far.
Professional Headshots and Networking
Your headshot shows up often— on LinkedIn, your company website, it might even appear in your emails. Headshots might seem pretty black and white: step 1, dress professionally; step 2, smile. But a visual, like your headshot, is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than written text. Therefore, take advantage of the power of image and make your headshot more approachable. Huey asks, “Does your photo show who you really are? Does it convey your personality?” It doesn’t have to be casual if that’s not appropriate for your line of work. Try capturing softer, warmer lighting and, as cliché as it is, just be yourself.