Let’s talk about networking, it is our best friend! No matter what type of business you have, be it jewelry, hair bows, skin care, candles, home decor or whatever else there is, networking is what will make your business successful!
The absolute best thing anyone can do for their Etsy shop is networking!
Networking skills are absolutely vital to grow your business. Networking can increase your market share, help you gain new ideas, provide work and perspectives on life and business. Speaking to one person can potentially give you access to over 200 clients and suppliers.
Make yourself visible: You need to let others know you exist and what you do by becoming highly visible and being set apart from the crowd, which is what good networking skills can provide. Be seen and get known. Look for interesting events to go to; clubs, associations, meetings, seminars, conferences, presentations, breakfast briefings, lunches, or start your own networking club.
Your image is important: To have success in networking you need to maintain your self-esteem and build your confidence. Consider how you dress, speak and maintain your body language; aim to present a professional, positive image.
Be positive: By having an open “can do” attitude and having the belief in giving and sharing as well as offering assistance your reputation will soon grow.
Build your relationships: You need to project an excellent image of warmth, approachability, understanding, knowledge, empathy, and an ability to engage with anyone.. Don’t forget your most powerful contact might not be the most useful to you. Above all be genuine. You should take an interest in everyone you meet, remember their name, listen acutely to them to understand their needs and how you could assist each other. Tact, reassurance and the building of trust are also the hallmarks and vital components of relationship building. Be relaxed and stay interesting.
Develop the ability to “small talk”: Being able to talk to anyone about anything is a valuable skill in its own right and essential in networking. Being able to initiate a conversation means you are more likely come into contact with people who may well turn out to be invaluable contacts. Small talk can be difficult but have a few easy questions you can ask “How did you get started in…..?”, “What do you particularly need to succeed?” “Where are you going with it next……?”
Listening skills: Networking is not about selling it is about listening to the other person and showing them you are interested in them by active listening. Allow others to open up & talk freely. Give you’re your undivided attention even if it is only for five minutes. Take an interest in what’s said and acknowledge this by nodding or agreeing. Use positive body language such as facing them with lots of eye contact. Used subtle mirroring techniques (body language copying) to develop rapport.
Business cards: With the many people you meet this is the only way to maintain the initial contact. 90% of businesses have no card and only 25% have a card that is up to date and informative. At the very least your own should have on it your name, address and phone number and ideally your email address if not your website. Try to include on the back your skills focus to help others identify what you have to offer. You should also create a tracking system to identify and remember all those who you meet.
Be organized! Keep a written list of everyone you know and everyone you meet and what they do or keep a database. Write memory joggers on the back of business cards. You may find it useful to keep a diary of who you meet and where and any mutual contacts for future reference.
Now, once you have this down start doing these:
1. Know Yourself
Having your own business is more than just creating a job for yourself. Your basic roles are in marketing, finance, administration, and sometimes the responsibility of personnel. To get the best results, it is rare for one person to play all these roles equally well. You must know which parts you can handle yourself and which parts you’re going to need help with. Yes, sometimes you may need to ask for help from family and friends, dont worry about asking! Deep down your family and friends will be more than willing to lend a hand!
2. Plan Ahead
Many businesses are run by well-intended people but who don’t have all the information they need to do their job. This includes a clear idea of market segment, target markets, customer service, product selection, marketing mix, promotional activities and pricing tactics. If you want to succeed you need a well thought out business plan that helps you make the right decisions.
3. Know The Industry
You can gain the greatest competitive edge if you have an intimate knowledge of your business. To thrive and prosper, you must be committed to learn and have the desire and energy to accomplish your goals. These are five main reasons why most businesses fail:
Lack of Industry Knowledge
Lack of Vision
Poor Market Strategy
Failure to Establish Goals
4. Understand Your Customer
Make it your business to give your customers what they want, and they will do business and buy from you. The products and services you provide should reflect your customers needs and wants. Think in your customers’ terms; buy, show, sell, and say things that interest them, not just what interests you. Remember, it is the customer that determines whether or not you succeed.
5. Keep Good Financial Records
If you don’t know where your money is going, it will soon be gone. The “game of business” is played with computers and the score is evaluated in dollars and cents. Good financial records are like the instruments on an airplane, they keep you posted of your height, direction, and speed. Without them you’re flying blind with no controls to guide you to your destination.
6. Manage Your Cash
It doesn’t matter how unique and wonderful your store is, your business can’t survive without cash flow. Money coming in your store is the vital component that keeps your business financially healthy. If you budget wisely and know the interval of your monthly income and expenses, you won’t have to worry about running out of money.
7. Use Sound Management Practices
As a store owner, you are also a manager. You have to make decisions, offer customer service, manage time and resources, and know how to merchandise and run the business better than anyone working for you. Give your employees the opportunity for growth, treat them fairly, pay them what they’re worth, and they will help make your business successful.
8. Develop A Distinctive Image= BRANDING!
Your image is important and is a function of your marketing efforts and materials. Customer’s create their perceptions of your business from your name, web site appearance, store location, products, prices, visual merchandising, signs, displays, business cards, newsletters, advertising material, customer service and anything else that relates to your business.
9. Control Your Inventory
All retail stores need to manage inventory. It is your money sitting on a shelf and represents a large portion of your business investment. The retailer who merely watches the store’s shelves can’t maintain a proper balance between the right amount of merchandise and probable customer demand. Without adequate control, slow-moving inventory becomes dated and very costly.
10. Buy and Price For Profit
To understand retailing, one must start with the concept that the price of your merchandise is nothing more than a temporary estimate of what the customer is willing to spend. In devising your overall pricing strategy, a practical approach can be based on the function of supply and demand. To be more competitive, join buying groups and seek out manufacturer discounts that allow you to purchase merchandise below wholesale prices. By offering better values, you’ll be able to attract more customers, and offer more opportunities to shop at your store.
11. Learn From The Pros
In today’s explosive markets, making the right moves is absolutely essential, there is little room for error. Without knowing how to navigate through these fast-moving times, it can be a tricky and even a self-destructive experience. Because of the emotional and sometimes difficult decisions that must be made, the crucial difference is having fresh ideas with an impartial business position.
12. Ask For Help When You Need It
Remember, getting results is what counts! Don’t be too proud to ask for help, we all need help sometimes. It is important to recognize that what you don’t know can end up costing you money, hurt the odds of success, and greatly reduce the chance of achieving your business goals. Hiring an expert with specialized skills can be the most profitable decision you can make to protect both your business and financial future.