SAN ANGELO, Texas — I consider myself an extrovert who is not afraid of speaking in public in front of big crowds, but when it comes to small talk, that is a different story.
You would think that someone who is an extrovert could handle a conversation with one or two people easily; however, for me that is not the case, and, perhaps, it’s not your cup of tea either. In my situation, I blame it on my accent.
It is a difficult obstacle to overcome when you are born and raised in a Spanish-speaking country. Sometimes I become very self-conscious of it, especially in smaller conversations where people tend to pay more attention to what and how you say something. Lately, I have been working on pacing myself in order to overcome the distress associated with my accent. The reason is because this year I want to master the art of networking, which starts with small talk.
Many of you might have thought of some New Year’s resolutions that will benefit your business. Although it is almost the end of January, I would like to encourage business owners to include mastering the art of networking to the list. The connections you make with others are extremely important. These new faces can become potential clients, suppliers or advocates of your business.
Business networking is defined as “a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create or act upon business opportunities.” In other words, it is one of the best inexpensive advertising tools you will have for your business.
Once you are ready to start networking, some steps you need to be prepared with at all times are:
Name tag — this is dually important because the person you are meeting will hear your name and will also have the chance to read it.
Have your business cards available.
Ask for business cards of the people you meet, and have a file to place all the cards you receive.
Write short notes on the business card to remember quick facts of that particular person and the most important parts of the conversation.
Step out of your comfort zone as it is easy to gravitate to those we already know. By doing this you create a closed network. Therefore, take the opportunity to step up and engage new people.
The key to networking is to remember that it starts with you and how you can help others. Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust, and hopefully, long-term relationships.
Many business owners may feel they have the art of networking under control. It may seem connections have been made with enough people that it isn’t necessary to continue to network. But when it comes to networking, there’s never such a thing as “enough.” The beauty of networking is it is not divided into specific groups because networking applies to anyone. At the end you never know when that one person might give you or your business that extra assistance you need.
“Business Tips” was written by Adriana Balcorta Havins, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.