Putting Personal Back into Small Business Networking

I read an article in Forbes the other day that talked about how to build meaningful business relationships. You may be surprised at what I got out of it. In essence, unNetworking is really what it’s all about.

If you had the opportunity to do business with a friend, would you choose them over looking in the proverbial yellow pages? Of course you would! This one seems like the obvious choice, however, the problem is that we don’t all have friends who happen to be business owners in the exact industries that we need!!

We do have the opportunity to build genuine business relationships though. And that takes good relationship building.

So here’s the gist of it:

Take an interest!

As small business owners we don’t all have brick and mortars where potential business partners can check out what our business is all about. This doesn’t mean that we don’t all have things that are important to us. At the next unNetworking, don’t be too shy to share what’s on your walls! Tell us about your vacation or staycation! Ask the person next to you what they are reading! It is the small bits of information that help bring out the real person – isn’t that who you’d really like to get to know before you do business?

Social Networking can’t be your only Networking!

It had to be mentioned! So here’s the thing. Social and professional networks are here to stay. This doesn’t mean that social networking should be your end all and be allSmall Business of networking. It should also be clear that being connected with someone digitally does not equate to having a meaningful connection with them in the real world. Real connections require real conversations! Jump off of your computer and your smart phone! Take off your networking hat for a bit and just converse!

It’s A Two Way Street!

We all know that relationships are built. They take time. Sometimes, they take coffee. By the way, I like mine with sugar and just a bit of cream! As small business owners we meet a lot of individuals who are potential suppliers and allies. A short email, a phone call to touch base… connecting after a networking event or business meeting, or next month when they are in town again… Good business relationships are grown.

So, does the old adage ‘It’s not personal, it’s just business….’ still hold true? What do you think? For small business owners anyways, business is very often about the personal touch and the person behind the business name.



Written initially for RockUrBiz.ca, Digital Oyster believes strongly in working to empower Small Business networking in Ottawa – and in building Small Business relationships!