Networking through community service is a win-win situation. Your company will benefit from the exposure and you will feel good knowing that you are helping your community. Also, you will be able to network with people whom you can help and people who can help you, all while contributing to a good cause.
Participate in a community event
This is an easy one to do. Many events are held throughout the year in which you can donate to a charity or school in exchange for space to promote your business. Treat these events like a trade show and have something to draw people to your booth, such as a giveaway (reusable shopping totes are a hot item right now). Also, be sure to have plenty of materials in order to educate prospects about what you do.
Be creative in getting the contact information from everyone who comes to your booth. You might want to have a drawing for a prize or simply a place for people to sign up for discounts or e-tips. Whatever you decide, make sure it is compelling enough for you to be able to collect prospects' contact information. Also, while you are there, remember to network with other business owners. You never know who your next customer will be, so talk to as many people as possible.
Hold your own fundraiser
Holding your own fundraiser can take a lot of work, but the publicity you may receive will more than make up for the time and effort spent planning. In addition, you can feel good knowing that you are helping to raise money for the charity of your choice. Further, holding a fundraiser is a great way to draw a crowd of people, which means you will have plenty of people with whom to network.
Network quality over quantity
If your goal is to simply get as many business cards as you can, you may be wasting your time. Instead, focus on letting others know how you can help them. That way, people will actually remember you, and you will be building a business relationship. Also, if you try to get as many business cards as you can, you will not be able to spend a lot of time building quality contacts. People are likely to forget you if you spend 30 seconds talking to them only to rush off to the next prospect.
Holding a volunteer position in an organization is a great way to meet people and build your network. As an added bonus, you may even learn a new skill. Many organizations need help from people who are willing to volunteer their time.
Always make the time to follow up with any prospects that you meet through your networking. If you let too much time lapse, you may lose the opportunity to gain a new customer. And even if the prospect does not buy from you, it is always good to have a network of business contacts. Following up is an important part of building business relationships and should not be neglected.
Networking is a great way to build your business, and networking while helping others is a win-win situation. Remember to take the time to build these new business relationships. Networking can be a mutually beneficial relationship, and it may even end up being your "safety net" during difficult times. So do not procrastinate - take some time now to find out how your company can participate in a community event and start increasing your business network.
Need help or want more information? Contact Cindy McSwain using the information below.
Senior Vice President
Cindy McSwain leads AGH’s outsourcing services group. Her team provides payroll, accounting, funds disbursement, controller, and other financial outsourcing services to numerous clients throughout the U.S. Prior to joining the outsourcing group, Cindy served AGH’s audit clients for 10 years, working with a wide range of middle-market, closely held and family-owned organizations.
Her current clients cross many industry sectors, including manufacturing and distribution, restaurants, retailers, medical and not-for-profit. She has participated in numerous SEC filings and public registrations and has experience in mergers and acquisitions. Cindy is a certified public accountant and a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.
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