25 Nov 2014

In business, the old saying is more right than we sometimes want to admit.

“It isn’t what you know; it’s who you know.”

Building relationships and surrounding yourself with the right people can often be a key to success, especially within the Calgary small business community.

Networking can help a small business owner :

✓ Generate referrals and leads
✓ Share knowledge and information
✓ Access professional services
✓ Recruit talent for contract or employment
✓ Raise her profile within the community

The Christmas holiday season is a great time to forge networking paths. Folks are brimming with joy and glad tidings and many are willing to extend a helping hand to someone who needs it.

Block time in your schedule to attend some holiday parties and functions and look at them as an opportunity to connect.

If you’re new to networking, try to remember:

1. It isn’t about you

You might look at networking as an opportunity to promote yourself and your business. It isn’t. It’s a chance to learn about other businesses, their owners and how they can contribute to the community. Then you develop an understanding of how they can help you.

2. Bring business cards

A business card doesn’t have to be flashy or eye-popping. It only has to communicate your contact information and what you do. Just make sure you have them within reach as no one really wants to watch you dig through your purse to find a card.

3. Keep it simple

As much as you want everyone to like you and think you know what you’re doing, you don’t need to astound anyone with your wit and knowledge base at these events. Smile, introduce yourself and ask lots of questions. Get your foot in the door by showing interest in others and what they know.

4. Make referrals

You might need be a photographer, but you know one. If you hear someone is planning a wedding or special event, offer to put her in contact with your photographer friend. Show yourself off as someone who is networked and can help. When it comes time for others to need your services, they’ll remember you.

5. Be confident

OK, that’s easier than it sounds. You can be a bundle of nerves on the inside and still have everyone think you’re cool as a cucumber. Give a firm handshake, make eye contact and ask lots of questions.

6. Bring a friend

If you can bring a guest to the holiday party, do it! It’s easier to walk into a room with your BFF next to you, isn’t it? She may even know people in the room and introduce you to them.

Have a holly, jolly networkmas

Your Inbox might be overflowing with invitations already. If it is, that means you’re probably a great networker already. You may even be at the stage where you’re entertaining the idea of starting a networking group yourself. Good for you!

If it isn’t, you might want to scour the Calgary area for networking groups. The Calgary Chamber is a good start. You might also try searching on Meetup.com, an Internet-based treasure trove of meeting groups.

Get going!