I have a new friend. His name is Chris.
Chris is a local business owner who recently made a point of introducing himself to me at a Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event. When he said he recognized me, I assumed it was from the picture that accompanies this column as is often the case. My assumption was wrong.
Chris explained that my mug shot kept popping up on his Facebook page as a suggested friend. When he saw me in person, he reached out. We socialized for a bit, then moved on. I soon received a friend request from Chris on Facebook. Thus we became Facebook friends. The mechanism is new, but the concept isn't. It's called networking.
Networking is one of the most effective means of promoting your business, of making new contacts and of expanding horizons in personal ways. The processes for networking are ever-changing, but the basics are constant. The more you interact with other people, the more you learn about them. At the same time, they're learning more about you, your business, and what you have to offer.
In business, it's not only about who you know. It's also about who knows you. When it comes to buying products or services, people like to stay in their comfort zone. They value the feeling of knowing who they are dealing with. They are most likely to seek out businesses where they have some personal connections. Networking builds those connections.
There are no chiseled-in-stone rules for networking. Those best at it are good minglers and good listeners. They're courteous opportunists. In face-to-face situations, they listen attentively to what others have to say. They don't dominate or oversell themselves. They're looking for new outlets for their goods or services. Simultaneously, they're mentally compiling files for where they will go when they need goods or services outside their field.
Face-to-face remains the best networking venue, but electronic networking isn't far behind. Facebook and other social media are opening new vistas for getting to know and be known. How businesses use those media dictate how they will be known. If you wouldn't do it face-to-face, it's not good networking to do it on-line. Social media postings that are in poor taste or cross lines of political correctness don't open doors for new business. They slam doors in your face.
Savvy business people are always on the lookout for new networking opportunities. Some of those will be coming up June 1 - 5 during the inaugural Longmont Startup Week. The theme – LSW15: The Heart of Startup – is all about us and what we have to offer. Emphasis will be on Longmont and our strategic location in the heart of the booming northern Colorado entrepreneurial zone; on our community's warm, welcoming and business-friendly environment; and on our town being an extraordinary hub for startup companies in a diverse array of industries.
I will be there in full force. I will present a session entitled “Tomorrow is Today – Do You Have a Plan?” I'll be covering the importance of communication plans.The session will be at the Innovation Center at 3:30 p.m. on June 3. Many other business people will cover a wide range of topics throughout Longmont Startup Week. They will be sharing a lot of useful information. With all the presentations, break-out sessions and social events, networking opportunities will abound. For more information visit www.longmontstartupweek.com.
I hope to see all of you during Longmont Startup Week, especially on June 3. But if you can't make it, maybe I'll see you online.
Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising.
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.