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11. 10. 2014

Smart Tips: The Small Business CEO's Guide to Networking and Relationships

Every small business CEO should know, that the success of his company depends not only on attracting customers but also building the right connections through networking. Many people think that networking events are organized for sales managers and biz devs in order to make sales and if nothing takes place at once, it means the efforts were ineffective and they failed.

However, less people know that networking is not about selling. In reality it may result in a direct sale, but the real networking is about valuable relationships with customers, collaborators, suppliers, competitors and so on.

Successful CEOs create powerful networking strategies and follow them in order to achieve their goals. They know that besides executive management they should also connect, engage and inspire people with their ideas and vision.

If you are a CEO of a small business and you don't know from where to start here is a guide for you on how to network effectively and start building valuable relationships for your business.

1. State what you want to get by networking

Although building relationships without any purpose will certainly have many advantages, it will be more effective if you define for yourself where you want to be and what you want to achieve. Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Do you want to secure your next round of funding? Do you want to get better tips for to help you in your hiring decisions?

As a CEO, you need to understand that the goals you want to achieve by networking depending on the demands of your business. For example, if you feel that your finance should be secured, you may decide to address others who have already secured finance, banks or venture capitalists depending on your aims. You can collect data during several years and then measure your success.

2. Decide with whom you want to connect

Once you’ve decided what you want to get by networking, you should start thinking of people who can help you to achieve your goals.

Sometimes it’s obvious who you should connect, for example in our case above, we should connect with banks or financial specialists. However, sometimes it gets harder to understand who can be the exact people who will be helpful for you.

Fortunately, nowadays, with the presence of internet it’s much easier to find well-connected people. Every niche has at least one forum where people gather and share their ideas and experience. For example, LinkedIn or Twitter are perfect places to find the people you want.

You can find people you are interested in, in the offline world as well. There are chambers of commerce, which are an excellent way of building relationships with the businesses in your area. Attending to social events can also be a big opportunity to network with the many specialists.

3. State your value proposition

In order to succeed in networking and have strong relationships you need to offer something of value before you ask for something from people. Value proposition is the main key to networking and to achieve it you can define what you can offer people with who you want to connect. Sometimes it’s very simple.

For example if you look for a supplier then the value you need to propose to them is the income. However, it’s not always as easy as it seems. So, you need to analyze people’s demands and needs and think of the ways of satisfying them. So, whoever you want to network with, helping them before they help you is the best way to build a strong relationship.

4. Start networking

When you reach this step, you can rest a little bit, because the times when you needed to attend events or commerce chambers to find useful people are over. Now, you should build mutually beneficial relationships with your partners.

So, there you have, CEO’s guide to networking and relationships. Do you have any experience in this field? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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Artash Arakelyan
CEO at Incredo. 6 years experience in internet marketing and marketing obsessed. Thinking of traveling in exotic countries and wish I eat couture cupcakes all day long. My birthday is on Dec 17 and yes I don't mind anonymous birthday gifts!
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