Sharpen Your Business Networking Skill To Grow Your Small Business

Most people become lax at maintaining their professional business network when they've worked with a company a while. With the constant rounds of mass layoffs, having a dead or outdated business network can mean business suicide to even the most skilled expert.

Whether you've been laid off and are looking for work or are a small business owner trying to grow a business, connections are crucial for business success. But it's not so much who you know as who knows you. And that means networking effectively should be one of your priorities. Here are a few tips to help you get the results you seek from business networking.

- Before you go to a networking meeting, be prepared with a goal. Who do you want to meet? Why are you there? Have a conversation icebreaker ready to get to know the right people.

- Don't reserve every seat and act like a grump if someone unfamiliar wants to sit there. Welcome the opportunity that a stranger presents. They may be your next prospect.

- Treat referrals like gold. Contact the referral within a day, if possible. Let the referrer know how things went.

- Online, your email creates the first impression just like your physical presence does at face-to-face meetings. Be the business professional that you are.

- Any email you send has the potential for being forwarded to an untold number of people. Before you press the "send" key, give your message the "front page" test. Ask, "How would I feel if this made the front page of the newspaper?"

Denise O'Berry is a small business expert who helps small business owners grow their business with less effort. Additional business networking tips may be found in her guide -- "101 Nuggets to Power Up Your Schmooze-Ability" at http://www.deniseoberry.com/101tips

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