Now's the time to prioritise contacts and events and make the most of social media, says Graham Southwell.
Getting back into the swing of things after the summer break isn't easy for any business person. Sometimes the idea of business networking when you'd rather be at the beach is a real challenge, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Here are five simple tips to kickstart networking and grow your business in 2014.
Evaluate your networking strengths and weaknesses
Take time to look at yourself and your business and decide where you can improve. Do you need to increase the number of networking events you attend? Or do you need to be more selective about the opportunities you take to network? Think about how you network and plan changes.
Consider the contacts you want to make and meet
If there are certain people you want to connect with, make a list and figure out practically how you are going to meet with them - in real life or online. Online networking can be a very effective and low-stress way to make that initial contact, using social media like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Draw up a list of how you can help others. This is your most important list in 2014 - think deeply. Networking works when you have the attitude of providing assistance to others. Approaching it as a one-way street always leads to failure.
Think about events
Picking the best networking events can be the difference between successfully growing your business and staying at status quo. Look over the year and plan which events you should attend. Consider joining an organisation like BNI (Business Network International), whose primary purpose is to exchange qualified business referrals and develop word-of-mouth marketing techniques.
Network with social media
Now is the time to assess your social media networking - does it support your overall networking goals? Are you following and liking your friends' businesses as well as the companies you want to sell to? If you're not, reach out on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
Graham Southwell is national director for BNI New Zealand BNI at www bni co nz is New Zealand's largest structured business networking organisation for small to medium businesses BNI's underlying philosophy is: "Givers Gain''.