Networking as a small business looks a bit different than networking as an employee. Know the difference between being a representative and the face of the business by learning how to network like a boss.
How to Network Like a Boss
Congratulations – You’ve started the journey as a business owner. Whether you’re fresh on the career scene or are transitioning from employee to business owner, you have to learn how to network like a boss.
There must be a change in the paradigm of who you are representing. If you came from a big company, you have to mentaly shift from thinking about the face of a big brand to representing the brand of yourself.
One thing is for sure – you can and should network like a boss as a small business owner. Let’s talk through 4 ways to shift your mindset to network like a boss.
Get the Digital Product Blueprint
Make the transition from the representative of a business to your personal brand.
Hold with me here – you still represent your business if you are a business owner. More than ever. But if you are making the transition from “employee” to “entrepreneur,” you are likely going to need to shift your mindset
If you came from an organization with power, resources or reputation, your networking was influenced by that power. Going into networking as your own boss can be intimidating. Make sure you are legitimate – establish a business page on LinkedIn and have a landing or web page. This boosts your credibility and gives you a place to point your new connections.
Remember, you add value, too. It is, in many ways, MORE exciting to network as a business owner because you are in the position to make things happen. Keep this in mind while you’re networking!
Make sure you have a follow–up system and stick to it.
Do you get your leads from in-person events? Awesome! Have some sort of method to catalogue their information and follow up. Do you generate leads from an online source? Do not let those contacts fall into the great abyss.
One of the first things that I did in my business was hire a sales coach. She was fantastic, and exactly what I needed at the time. But you know what SHOCKED me about working with her? I realized that so much of sales is about “working a system.”
I can’t tell you exactly what your networking process should be – that is a decision you must make based on your products and business needs. For me, I use a mix of social media (hey, LinkedIn) and good old fashioned networking events to build and maintain my network.
Find a process, work it, and edit it as needed.
Networking is not about selling.
I repeat – networking is not about selling. One of my all-time favorite books is “The Go Giver.” In my old corporate role, I had dedicated professional development time every month. I remember DEVOURING this book one afternoon and quickly putting together a lunch and learn series based on it. The take away from the book? Those that view networking as an outlet to contribute will ultimately gain the most from their network.
Sometimes that means a volunteer opportunity or connecting your network to others who would mutually benefit from the connection. Want to network like a boss? Think about how you can GIVE rather than what you can GET.
One of my largest clients to date was one that I landed after I volunteered to help with an event. My training skills were on display, as I had helped organize the event and even jumped in to emcee the event (if you know me at all this is not a shock). Shortly after, I received a call from a manager at this organization – he was in the audience and wanted to hire me.
I said “yes” to a volunteer opportunity that came to me through networking and it ended in closed business.
Just because you’re awesome at the technical stuff doesn’t mean you will succeed in business.
What's the statistic these days? Only half of small businesses will make it past 5 years? Surely those other businesses that shuttered their doors were at least moderately good at something.
There's a lot of theories about “why,” but I want to add mine – a prime marker of success is the network that a small business owner can grow and cultivate.
I see SO MANY business owners [especially online-based businesses] stepping back from massive opportunities like LinkedIn or their local networking scene just because they have “enough” business.
Wake up! The current market is showing us you never know what is around the corner. A primary driver of your continued success is your ability to network like a boss.
Dive in. Engage. Give. Your network is the foundation of your success.