As business owners, we are forced to continuously relearn strategies and techniques in order to keep up with industry growth. We must learn how to keep driving our businesses forward, while still shaking things up and pushing ourselves. Recently, I have revisited my goals for the upcoming year. My top priority is to increase awareness of my company and our services.
I thought about the best way to approach this goal, and as a team, my company decided the best course of action was to attend as many as events as possible!
Why be selective? I believe that any opportunity to learn is an opportunity to grow. There is something to be taken away, whether it is information or contacts, from any business event.
Personally, I worked very hard to network with the United Way of Westchester/Putnam. I got to know members, attended events, and really stuck my neck out to become a part of their business community. Recently, I was honored to be asked to join their board. My efforts yielded a win/win scenario, as I am now able to further my efforts for the United Way of Westchester/Putnam, a great organization, and at the same time network and learn even more.
Additionally, I have been striving to learn more about politics and government. There are many government programs that help small businesses thrive in this trying economy. I also learned about a great program that has enabled me to hire an employee whose taxes would be reimbursed. Not only is she a tremendous asset to my company, but I was enlightened to a whole new world of politics that can be instrumental to helping small businesses stay afloat.
Lastly, I was given some very tough feedback that my “ask” was not up to par. After 22 years in business, I was told that I wasn't sharp or tough enough—asking for “an invite to the party” wasn't cutting it. Know what you want from those who you are trying to reach out to and be sure of yourself. You can network all you want, but unless you are confident in yourself and your end goals, what is the point? Make sure you can tell them what they can really do for you and why they should do it. Work on your small talk—it can be a breaking point.
But in the end, all of this change is exhausting and thrilling and it’s what makes me continue to love being an entrepreneur!
Wendy Kaufman is the President and Founder of Balancing Life’s Issues, a national corporate training company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.