The Thing about Networking

January 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Today I diverge from my usual style of posts to consider networking as a way of doing business. Wednesday evening I attended the Ultimate Networking event in Kitchener at Conestoga Place. As an exhibitor, representing my business FineTune Editing, I met many people, some of whom are new to networking through social media and one who is still deciding whether she will join the organization that put on this event. Making sales at this event was not the goal; it was making connections. Teaching potential authors and business people the importance of getting their work edited was also a personal goal.

Getting ready for this event, I prepared business materials that would help guests understand what an editor does. I gathered a portfolio of projects, including books I had edited, and ordered a new banner to help me be more visible in trade shows and anywhere I might promote my work. Since I’m a writer and storyteller, those words also were included on my banner (below). Next I gathered handouts and put up messages on social media,  Twitter, and to business people whom I have come to know in networking groups and organizations of which I am a member.

My 30-second promo needed some review as well, though it seems to change each time I share it.  My experience in Toastmasters has helped me in both the impromptu part of talking to potential clients as well as prepared speeches, and I’d recommend the organization to any person having to promote a business or needing to get up in front of an audience to speak.

Janet Benedict, representative for The Canadian Networker and organizer of this event, put much time and effort into setting the stage. The venue, Conestoga Place, was pleasant, clean and spacious. Janet, representative of RPM Promotions, believes in networking as a way to get word out about what we do as small business owners. I asked her a few questions about her experience with networking.

Storygal (S): What do you think is the most important thing about networking?

Janet: I feel the most important thing about networking is building relationships.  Genuinely be interested. Without building relationships you will fail to engage others and this will lead to lost business connections.

S: Tell me about your first experience in networking and what you learned from it that you’d like to share.

Janet: My first networking event was with the SBCN (Small Business Community Network), and I was terrified to do my 30-second verbal introduction.  What I learned is that we are all there for the same reason, to connect and build relationships.  We all can benefit from each other if we truly are interested.  I learned to talk less and listen more.  I further learned the value of following up in a timely manner.

What I’ve learned about networking is much the same as Janet’s experience. We need to promote our business; we need to talk to others who are out there networking and we need to meet people. Just what we do on social media connects directly with our comfort level.

We’ll get more comfortable promoting our business when we realize that others feel the same reticence in the beginning. We do what we do because we believe in a product or have certain skills.  My invitations went to other business people whom I thought could benefit: a professional clown, a wedding officiant, a person with an accounting businesss, and others.

One way to promote  is to get out and meet like-minded people, be  a part of associations and continue to build our skills. Being real and personable, and building our networking skills will certainly help.

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