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Doing the Biz



 How To Effectively Network To Create New Business Leads Pt. 1

 Bruce Kullberg


Networking. (1) The ability to build sales profitability through impersonal communications and contacts. (2) The most cost effective way to market a business. - INC. Magazine, Dec.'91.

Networking is both a concept and a specific activity which, if understood and successfully implemented, can mean big things for your entrepreneurial business.  The dictionary defines a network as "an arrangement of parallel wires, etc., crossed at regular intervals, or anything like this, as in a system of inter-connected roads and individuals."  When placed in a business context, networking means seeing to it that practical information about similar (parallel) business needs or customers' desires get communicated (via wires?) to all affected businesses (inter-connected individuals) so they can take action.  By being "wired" into a human network of contacts and information relevant to the business, the entrepreneur can be better positioned to exploit the marketplace. 


Business networking groups and organizations have become commonplace in almost every metropolitan city throughout the United States.  Either through the efforts of your city and/or state economic development departments, Chamber of Commerces', universities, or private initiatives, the structure is in place.  Almost all local newspapers publish meeting or club dates for special interest groups.  If you can find the listing, call your local newspaper for further information.  It is up to you to tap into these organizations and benefit through active participation. 

Networking is advertising in its' purest form - word of mouth.  I'm not referring to advertising a product or service - but yourself.  If you are attending networking meetings, but not introducing yourself to as many people as possible, (AND explaining your present situation or business needs!), chances are you're leaving the meetings feeling discouraged and ineffective, and probably wasting your time.   Suppose you are brave enough to attend several meetings and you get to know several people?  What usually happens when you attend the next meeting?  Do you end up finding a comfortable corner and talk to the same people you met the week before?  Sure, most people do!  Almost everyone feels more comfortable and secure by socializing with familiar faces.

But that's not the purpose of joining a networking group.  Results are!  Take the initiative to talk to someone new by introducing yourself.  Ask them what type of business they own, or would like to start, or at least why they attended the meeting.  Be a matchmaker by introducing and linking people with similar interests. Through your actions, they are going to be appreciative of your efforts, which could result in a returned favor. Most likely they will follow your example and be a matchmaker too. Networking should become an integral part of your marketing efforts.  This was best explained by Harry Leibowitz, President, Partner In Marketing, a marketing firm based in Columbus, Ohio, "Everyone is a potential customer, or a lead to a potential customer.  You have to work at it, and it should be thought of as a job.  And don't have someone, or expect them, to sell your business.  You sell it!"


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