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In order for your business to flourish you must be prepared to market yourself outside the business. You need to put a face to your business and create a presence outside your four walls.
There’s an old saying “its not what you know but who you know”. Of course you need to run your business with expertise and integrity but it is just as important that you connect with your community and network. Don’t be afraid of the word “networking” it simply means that you are going to let people know (preferably face- to -face) who you are and what you do.
Keep in mind that networking is about being open, honest and genuine. When speaking to people there should be no “shtick” or used car salesman pitch. You should be able to articulate what you do, what you are interested in achieving and identify how your business might help someone else. The goal when business networking should be to meet new people and exchange information and resources in order to mutually benefit. It cant be all one sided. There needs to be win/win in order to create a relationship that will last.
First impressions count. Just like a first date, how you appear and come across while networking is important. At face-to-face events put your best foot forward. Dress the part. That doesn’t mean you have to wear formal attire, but ensure that you are dressed for the occasion, that you make eye contact and you are enthusiastic and personable. This can be a challenge for many people, but with practice it will become second nature.
Give yourself a goal. When you attend an event challenge yourself to meet at least 10 new people. Engage in conversation with them, find out what they do and what their needs are and of course, exchange business cards. Yes, you will need business cards. I’m always surprised by how many people who own/run businesses that don’t have a proper card. It doesn’t matter whether you run a bakery or a day care or a car wash, you should have a business card.
Always ensure that you follow the brand standards set out by your franchisor or head office as you are representing more than just your location, you are representing your franchise brand.
Networking is one of the easiest, most cost effective and lasting forms of marketing and it is vital to any business. When you think about it, we all network everyday. When we talk with friends and family and colleagues about our day, we are in fact networking. It is that easy rapport that we have with the people we know that you need to adopt when you are networking for your business. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Be comfortable with your approach, confident about what you do and friendly in your demeanor. Don’t get caught up in the mechanics, just relax and enjoy the experience.
Learn more about franchise business opportunities in Canada at Be The Boss.