Networking, a process of sharing and developing contacts, information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest, is perhaps the most affordable and most qualitative means of building an account base. For newcomers, though, it’s the means to starting to build an account base. Being a good networker assumes having — or developing and sharpening — the basic social skills involved in making contacts and meeting people. It also means, comfortable with and willing to exploit one’s contacts to further relationships to a point where they’ll eventually put some cash in your pocket.
Networking is a commitment to facilitating your own success, and when its initial goal is to advance your ability to grow your account base, its practitioners need to exude a sense of professionalism and proactively and constantly projecting a strong, positive company identity. And anyone investing the time to network needs to commit himself or herself to following up on the contacts they make and the information they learn.
An old phrase from radio days proclaimed: “The news… when it happens, where it happens, even if we have to make it happen!” It applies today about getting publicity for your business. While it’s easy to post your company’s doings on the Internet and letting the world take it from there, it’s another story getting coverage of your company in the newspaper or on television. But if there’s something interesting about what your company is doing or that’s downright newsworthy — you probably won’t get any attention unless you initiate the process of making it happen. You get the ball rolling by sending a press release to your local newspapers and business publications; when you’ve got something really newsworthy and hot to brag about make a phone call to the news department. Do likewise for notifying local television stations and a make a follow-up telephone call to the newsroom to see if you should get ready for a news crew that might be visiting your shop.