DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2005
Starting your business is the easy part. Staying in business is another matter. Many businesses fail because owners don’t understand the importance of promoting their products and services. Often, there’s the magical expectation that customers will flow in, keeping you free to focus on other tasks.
This is a mistake.
It’s important to realize that being in business, especially for a new, small business person, means being a good promoter of that business. Who can represent the business better than you can? Who knows its vision, its possibilities, its strengths? Only you really know where you want the business to go. You need to know how you expect to get there and whom to meet to successfully promote your business.
So, how good are your networking skills? Often, people view networking as socializing. Those who hold this view don’t have a clear understanding of the dynamic power of this skill. It’s important to critically evaluate yourself and determine whether you need more practice in this area. This will help you avoid future resentment that your business is not developing the way you’d like. Remember, for a small business – you and your business are the same. Promoting one promotes the other.
Get out of the Office
People won’t get to know about your product or services if they never get to see you. Consider time out of the office as important as time spent in the office, even though you’ll always feel torn about how to juggle it all. Highly successful people are up at dawn, attending breakfast meetings to promote themselves and their products. They can then get back to their businesses to open the doors on schedule. You can do this too. True, it’s early in the morning but remember, this is not a social call you’re making, this is business. If it better suits your schedule, make the commitment to attend networking activities after work. Either way, these are not optional activities. They’re essential if you’re to become known and, more importantly, if others are to learn what you have to offer.
It’s not enough to show up once or twice at these networking affairs. People prefer to do business with people they know and like. They can’t get to feel this way about you if you show up once, ask them to do business with you, and never show up again. This happens all too often, but successful people know better. They understand that they have to pay some dues and that, ultimately, it is who you know. Pick a few of the activities you truly enjoy and make a commitment to attend them regularly. Business may not come pouring in the door right away, but eventually you’ll see results.
While it’s important to engage in activities you enjoy, remember that your primary purpose isn’t to have fun — it’s to build your business. Make sure the activities you select result in helpful contacts or information that enables you to make these contacts on your own. Participation on community advisory boards, committees, and in associations and organizations is often overlooked for networking. This involvement lets you give something back to the community, while helping you meet interesting people who may eventually become customers. Major companies learned this long ago, and continue to make sure they are well represented on the boards of key agencies and organizations. Identify your interests and let the organization know you want to get involved. You might not be able to start at the top, but be patient. Your involvement at any level will bring you into contact with people who ultimately may be helpful to you.
If this all sounds very calculated and contrived — it is. That’s the point. The way you go about networking should fit in with the overall marketing plan for your business. If it doesn’t, then your networking will be fun but that’s all it will be — a pleasant social activity. Take business development seriously, be strategic, and make networking work for you.
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at http://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.