These useful networking tips from marketing franchise experts will help you become an influencer in your circles.
Don’t make the mistake of pouring your energy into networking only at a time when you are seeking new employment. By waiting to network merely when you need to, you potentially ripoff chances for professional growth. If you want worthwhile connections (and you DO), the activity must be continuous and can start now, by tending to people both inside and outside your current place of employment. In the business world, it can be said that your worth is tied to the value of your network, since the Department of Labor indicates that networking is responsible for nearly 70 percent of all annual hires. So, if you aren’t actively taking care of and expanding your network, you are causing the decline of your own flow of new business opportunities. After all, leaders within the corporate world have some of the most impressive networks. It is time to join them.
Extending yourself to others through networking is the process of building personal and professional connections in ways spanning from traditional face-to-face meetings straight through to media-based interactions, such as those developed via online channels. The bonds are forged with mutual benefits intended and yield references or referrals for potential new business opportunities. While networking results in contacts able to offer insights or assistance in specialized areas, it can also yield worthy social benefits as it is common for people to spend time networking online and go on to connect in person with those same folks as they travel to business events beyond their area.
Everything comes at a cost, but the gain from proper networking is well worth the investment it requires. For instance, it takes time to nurture strong relationships, and there can be the expectation to reciprocate for a contact who may have helped you get a major account and is now hoping you come through similarly. Also, managing a swelling network with a large number of contacts is a reality of the digital age.
Managing time well, making sure to reciprocate when possible and identifying an ideal maximum number of meaningful contacts you can maintain effectively are all key ways to keep your thriving network healthy – and it is well worth it. The sheer expanse of social media has impacted the range of networking possibilities significantly. Now, at little cost, people are developing relationships beyond their country’s borders and this is an advantage, if time is budgeted and the right connections are the ones afforded the best attention. Just as a standard digital sign-off at the end of an email will never effectively compete with a custom- printed business card personally handed over during a genuine interaction, online networking will never replace the power of in-person connections. But, it is a fact that social networking online will maintain itself as an important venue when it comes to tending to established relationships as well as sparking new ones.
Networking isn’t limited to the people you get to know and how they can serve you in the future. Rather, it is of special importance to obtain access to the people who reside within the network of each of your connections. Capitalizing on the extended network that flourishes when you recognize your connections’ networks will increase your own personal potential to scope out prospective clients as well as fresh business opportunities.
So working hard and with great dedication is essential to success, but purposeful networking is what will help you launch your greatest career potential and extend your professional reach.
Minuteman Press International is the world’s number one-rated digital print, design and marketing franchise opportunity and the clients of their nearly 1000 centers worldwide reap many business services benefits including a complete, customized marketing strategy. Here are 4 key insights from successful Minuteman Press franchise owners so that you can more effectively network yourself on the grand stage of the business world:
1. Utilize all tools to become well-known locally. Ron Burlakoff, owner of Minuteman Press franchises in East Haven, Hamden, and Shelton, Connecticut, advises preparing for personal networking campaigns by trusting professionals to arm you with the right materials and approaches. He says, “Network yourself by utilizing all of the tools offered to each Minuteman Press location. Through targeted direct mailing, and by joining every club and organization you can (participating in all functions) your presence will become well-known.”
2. Be inquisitive and open-minded in conversations. Amir Djabini, owner of Minuteman Press in North Arlington, New Jersey, urges his clients to listen to people with an agenda that includes finding ways their products and services can fit into their needs and make their lives easier. This approach provides you what you need to start problem-solving and that takes networking to another dimension, one that works long-term and is more likely to lead to referrals. Amir also offers a warning against approaches that will sabotage networking efforts. He explains, “Networking begins with being ‘selfish’. For a successful career in social entrepreneurship, social change work and life itself, become a ‘selfish listener’. Listening to find ways your talents can work to serve each person you are conversing with leads to chances for new business.”
Amir adds, “What makes a good listener? What I learned from someone like Jessamyn Lau, Program Leader for the Peery Foundation, is to approach every conversation with an open-minded, inquisitive attitude. “What can I learn from this person?” should lead the tone of the discussion. What causes problems in communications is when people are unwilling to have a real conversation.”
He concludes, “All of us are repelled by the overly-talkative salesperson, the elevator speech, the pitch man, the ‘talking points’ expert, the person who only hears the sound of his or her own voice, etc. The individual who is talking at you, not with you is a turn-off. That’s not networking. That’s not even pleasant or personable.”
3. Take a direct approach to show how you can help. David Goldvug, owner of Minuteman Press in Greenwich, CT, minces no words and takes a direct approach to helping his clients set themselves up for successful network building. He states, “How should you market yourself? There are very simple ways: Be a member of business social clubs and educate your clients about everything you can do for them. Use direct and EDDM mail, nice printed marketing collateral, and Internet tools to promote your business.”
4. Look for opportunities everywhere and follow up! Jonathan Dunwoody, owner of Minuteman Press in Huntsville, Alabama, speaks about networking success with confidence as he has seen the positive results from the methods he has helped his clients employ for their own benefit. He advises using your personal strengths, including the dynamics of your family to gain additional networking ground in various situations, while always being proactive. He says, “Look for as many professional social networking opportunities as you can find and go to ALL of them. Whether it is visiting each BNI group in your area or attending each chamber of commerce meeting or after-hours event, be there.
Stay on top of each of the social networking sites and use Hootsuite to cover greater digital ground. You can post something on Hootsuite and it will go out to all of the different networks that you are a part of. If you have kids, join some clubs or organizations with them. If you don’t, then work with a few nonprofit organizations. Last, but most important, FOLLOW UP with the folks you meet (by phone call preferably) but if not, then hand written “snail mail” as physical mail has a greater effect than digital. Do not email them – they won’t look at it.”
Just Be Yourself When Networking
Keith Cawley, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President for Minnesota and St. Louis, Missouri Regions, points to reliable ways to draw new contacts into your network, reminding everyone about the lasting value of custom-printed promotional items as an easy way to be remembered. Keith sums it up, saying, “The best way to network yourself is to just be yourself. I found that just saying hello to people can start a great conversation. That being said, giving a promotional item is the best way for people to remember you. Just make sure it is something that they will use every day.”
Effectively networking yourself means having a goal, familiarizing yourself with your audience and treating the interests and needs of those you meet as if they are your own. It is vital that you build your network so that you can maintain a strong current and future network because both will be the basis of years of healthy connections with continual referrals and the chance to explore new professional horizons.
To learn more about joining the #1 rated Minuteman Press franchise family, call us at 1-800-645-3006 or simply fill out the contact form on this page.