Networking to gain a solid customer base is indisputably an essential strategy for franchise and small business owners, yet many entrepreneurs still simply don’t know where to start. In an effort to work together, it’s time you learned how to network like a pro. Because the key to a prosperous business is not only who you know, but how well you maintain those relationships over time.
The following networking tips will equip you for success.
The Elevator Pitch
The day-to-day grind of operating a franchise or small business can get in the way of other priorities and may overshadow the importance of active networking. But consider this—if people don’t know who you are or what product or service you provide, you can’t establish a meaningful connection with your target audience. Everything begins with developing a sound elevator pitch—a 30-second introduction of who you are, what you represent, and the value proposition you’re proposing.
Attending local networking events is imperative to expanding your network, enhancing brand visibility, and increasing the potential for new business opportunities through expanded connections. But first you must “get in the game”. Not everyone is naturally extroverted, but just by your attendance and participation will help you form dependable business relationships and diversify your interests. Here are some top recommendations for a local networking campaign. While the pandemic has altered many in-person events, either postponed or socially distanced, there’s still likely to be a full slate of virtual or online options, which may work better for initial introductions anyway. Here’s a few:
- Rotary Club is a large global network and a fantastic organization for leadership development. There’s a chapter near you, so make plans to reach out.
- Most Local Chamber of Commerce organizations provide training, professional development, and resources for business owners. Find your local chapter here.
- SCORE is one of the largest networks of free volunteer small business mentors in the country. FranNet works closely with SCORE at the local level.
- The National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is one of the largest networking groups for females, designed to educate them on business best practices. Find your closest chapter here.
- While it may be an untraditional networking organization, your local American Marketing Association is a great place to learn from entrepreneurs in your community as many small businesses invest in marketing. You can join by following this link.
Building Authentic Connections
As we lead increasingly digital lives, building authentic relationships may all of a sudden seem daunting. But because people are naturally drawn to those with common interests, it’s critical to not lose the relationship-building momentum after a networking event. One of the best ways to foster a new relationship is with a follow-up. Proper business etiquette is essential to building meaningful relationships, so don’t forget to send something as simple as a thank you note. If you can transition a connection into a raving fan and advocate, your business will eventually thrive.
Strengthen Weakest Connections
Knowing the right person at the right time can be extremely beneficial to an emerging franchise or small business operation. While it’s critical to keep an open and ongoing line of communication, you’ll run the risk of losing touch with valuable contacts as your priorities shift over time. It may be uncomfortable to reach back out, so it’s important to approach each conversation with intent and an end-objective in mind.
Extend a Helping Hand
You’ve built an incredible roster of reliable contacts, but have you forgotten to ask, “What’s in it for them?” The best networking strategy is always a perpetual give-and-take. Look out for the best interests of your networking connections and they’ll look out for yours. Keep in mind that meaningful networking goes far beyond a business card exchange or simple favors. There’s no substitute for an impactful and mutually beneficial relationship, which can then lead to tremendous success for you, your company, and others.
If networking comes naturally to you, perhaps it’s time to begin an entrepreneurial journey of your own. We can help you get started today by setting up a no-cost, no-obligation appointment with a qualified FranNet representative who both lives and works in your area. Together, we can find a franchise ownership opportunity that matches up perfectly with your lifestyle and income-oriented goals.