Let’s be real, we all hate networking. Nine times out of 10 it’s a tight collar affair where you say your elevator pitch 100 times and you meet way to many people who think it’s a great place to score a date. (It’s not btw). So how in the world are you supposed to build those connections? How are you supposed to “get your name out there” to get noticed or get your business noticed?
One thing I’ve learned in the 8 years that I have been networking is that it’s the relationship building that matters, because that’s where the true connections lie.
“But how do we get to the relationship part?!”
Trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Thankfully right here in DFW we have countless options to meet and mingle with people who actually will help your business grow, and you can help them grow theirs! In today’s blog post, I am sharing how to meet, build, and keep business relationships in today’s modern marketplace!
How do I meet like minded businesses?
You wouldn’t go to the auto shop to get groceries, now would you? So why do so many people think that stuffy hotel lobby happy hour networking events are still the only way to meet people?
One thing that I started doing in college was searching on Eventbrite for events that were related to my industry. Free fashion shows, fashion shows with affordable tickets, charity or donation ticket shows, you name it. If there was a fashion show, I was there. Doing this allowed me to meet industry professionals, entry level fashion designers, and countless business contacts who I could reach out to for potential jobs after college. Now that I am an entrepreneur and small business owner, my keywords have changed to “Startup Networking” and “Startup Events”. That helps me know that the people who are attending could be potential businesses that my business needs to succeed!
Locally, Stoke CoWorking Space is my favorite.
Locally, Stoke Coworking helps local entrepreneurs and startups work and meet potential new partners every day. Hosting virtual events like Coffee & Convos on Tuesdays, and Lunch And Learn on Wednesdays. All of these events are free and you can gain access by signing up for emails or getting a membership! These events are currently virtual through zoom, so anyone from anywhere can join!
How do I build a business relationship?
Think of it like when you get brunch with friends to catch up and build and grow your friendship. Setting up appointments and meeting with potential business partners is vital to the growth and reach of your business. One way that I used to do was visit the businesses I had partnered with or wanted to partner with and just strike up conversation to get to know them, as well as develop a mutual respect for eachother. This allowed me to get to know the owners on a personal level which allowed us to partner and help grow our businesses together long term!
When you’re building a business relationship, here are the top things I like to do:
- Build a mutually respecting relationship
- Be authentic and yourself
- Develop an I’ve got your back partnership
Building a mutual respect
This goes back to what I was saying above with taking the time to get to know the businesses. Just like you would in a friendship though, this takes time. It’s something that you’ll want to work on regularly! You can meet with the businesses in their place of business, set up zoom meetings with you and other business owners, join the local chamber, or join local Coworking cohorts! This is a great way to meet and chat in an open environment to build and grow respect for each other!
Be authentic and yourself
This seems like a no brainier, but truly just be yourself! There’s no reason to try and pretend to be someone you’re not. While it may be seem appealing to pretend to be someone you’re not, when has starting off a long term relationship on a lie ever been a good thing? When you’re open, honest, and authentically you in a business partnership, you open the doors for real growth and development for your business!
Develop an I’ve got your back relationship
Sometimes doing your business friends a solid will go a long way. Whether that’s giving them a shout out for an upcoming event or sharing their products that they love with your friends and audience! But also, gossip.. Because let’s be real, we all know someone who will gossip about other business owners before they take the time to get to know the person they are gossiping about. We are all business owners together, and we all need to have each other’s backs because if we don’t, who will?
How to keep business relationships going!
This is the best part! (But can also seem like a daunting task). Keeping your business relationships strong and growing is going to not only help you on your small business journey, but will also help you feel less alone in your journey. Easy ways to keep your business relationship can be regular contact through resources like LinkedIn or social media, signing up for emails and newsletters to always be in the know with what your business friends are doing, and or course a good ole fashioned dinner reservation to chat strategies and catching up never hurt anything!
Keeping business relationships can be hard, especially if you’re new to the area, a new business, or overall just timid! The best thing I’ve done for my business networking was join in on the free Stoke CoWorking events. This has helped me meet mentors, join new start up programs, and make connections here locally that have helped me expand my business and grow it in ways I couldn’t’t do alone.
Just a reminder…
Networking is different for everyone and everyone has their own unique way to meet, mingle, and grow their connections! These are the tips and tricks I have learned and use throughout the years in a multitude of industries. Overall, it’s been successful! Every now and again you make it a little ways into the process (or even in the initial meeting for that matter) and you find out that there may be differences that can cause just one to many issues down the line, so you just move on! The rewards though for sticking it out mean that you’ll be one step closer to building strong and lasting business relationships! (That could turn into lifelong friendships 😉)