Sandy put in her long hours as a cashier at the local Speedway. After three years, she decided to open her own chalk-lettering business. She wanted to make money doing something she loved — just like she’d heard about online and on television.
So she tried.
Six months in, Sandy was back full-time at Speedway because she was never able to grasp the networking required to grow her business.
Lindsay, her cashier cohort, opened her own pet-sitting biz at about the same time, yet her business was already booming. Lindsay knew how to make connections that would create a solid base for her business.
Without a solid foundation of relationships, no business will survive.
Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin mega-enterprise, will tell you that. As the head of over 400 companies, he testifies that only the ones built on strong networks thrive.
So how do you network like Richard Branson to grow your business or personality? Here are 7 steps that will get your income increased in no time:
•Get your feet wet early
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a side gig or a full-on entrepreneurial endeavor with investors and partners. Jump in early. Don’t sit and wait for people to come to you.
Waiting in that ridiculously long line at the grocery store? Chat up the lady behind you. Talk to the cashier when it’s your turn. At the library? Talk to the librarian before leaving. Make it a point to meet new people wherever you go. They won’t all be customers, but some might tell their friends and family about you.
• Don’t be selfish
You’re excited to pull in new customers, but you can’t just meet someone and drop your name or your card. You must get to know the people you’re chatting with. They won’t be interested in you if you don’t show interest in them first. The connections that matter will come, so be patient and play courteously, like you were taught when you were little. Ask them about themselves, why they do what they do, and make genuine connections.
3. Meet your industry’s influencers
When you’re connecting with them, be conscious of their time and don’t be pushy or ask too much of them. As a matter of fact, don’t ask anything of them before you’ve offered yourself or your help first — and often.
• Be genuine
People can tell when you’re sincere. They can also tell when you’re forcing that niceness from somewhere uncomfortable. Eliminate the thought that you’re forming relationships in hopes to better your business; think in terms of friendships. Because in friendships, your goal is to be there for the other person with whatever they need. And when you give, they’ll feel compelled to help you when you need it most.
• Become a superior listener
People reveal a ton about themselves when they share even the minutia of their lives. If you’re a great listener, you’ll hear more than what they’re saying. This one thing can help you grow more than anything else: Understanding people.
• Perfect your timing
The point of networking (though you shouldn’t think too much about this) is to make an ask when you need to. If you start the relationship as a good listener and helpful friend, you can ask for a sale when it’s time — without feeling guilty. Get the timing right (after investing time and energy), and you’re more likely to hear a yes. Get it wrong, and you’ll close the door on the relationship altogether.
• Display confidence
When you meet people with confidence, either online or off, they’ll see you as an authority. If they like you and know you’re knowledgeable, sales may come without your even asking. They’ll think of you when they need a service or product you’re offering.
When you’re starting any business, talk to people, learn more about them, offer your help, and be confident. They’ll remember you and want to be a part of what you’re doing. Sir Richard Branson is the king of business — and if there’s anything you need to learn to increase your income, it’s how to network the way he does.