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How To Work With People in Business

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an “account executive” (i.e. salesperson), an employee or a bum knowing how to work with people can make or break you. As we all hear pins drop and quiet whispers of disbelief that a company is actually encouraging you to use other people, let’s clarify a little and get you started working people!

In business of all types, from nonprofits to bounce houses, from comedians to educators, every person on the planet is more likely to do business with someone they know and like. We all work with people we know for at least some of our business needs. We also all work with people we know to find ourselves new business. Whether you’re selling widgets, websites or yourself (easy now…I meant you job hunters out there!) it’s essential to forge relationships with the people in your industry as well as in other industries. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve gotten and deals I’ve closed because I knew someone who knew someone. I also can’t tell you how many of those came to me because I made a connection for them that helped them out and got them business as well.

What’s the point of all this “using” talk? Every one of us in business should be forging relationships as often as possible. But how do we do that? The old “Do you come here often?” pickup line doesn’t really work all that well to start off a business relationship. Of course, unless you’re the Ladies Man this line doesn’t work that well in any situation…. Guys, take note.

Below I’ve included ideas of ways to start making meaningful business connections.
1. Sign up with your local Small Business Administration and attend events. I went to an event this week, the National Small Business Week Town Hall of Boca Raton, where I met business people from all over the country and national leaders of the SBA. It was huge so it was a little overwhelming to try to meet people. My approach? I asked a question at the Q&A with the Keynote speaker in front of all those people. Yep, I stood up, and with knees shaking, I walked to the audience podium and asked a question in front of hundreds of people. I thought I was going to throw up from nervousness before I got my turn but it was so worth it! I announced my name and my company and asked a unique question. Afterward people brought me their cards left and right. Not only that, I was invited to stay afterward for a filmed interview about my experience at the conference that will be featured on a national company’s social media (Chase Bank for those of you who are wondering.) The key at these events- ask a question of the Keynote speaker and announce your name and company name clearly and slowly.

Jessica Anderson and Cassius Butts
Jessica Anderson (me) with Cassius Butts, the SBA Regional Director and also the MC of this awesome event hosted at Office Depot in Boca Raton May 4th, 2015.

2. Get involved with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). This is a great way to learn and also meet other like-minded business people. Also, most of these events are free! If you attend a seminar be sure to stand up and ask a question at the end (of course, after introducing yourself and your business)!

Ecosystem of support for women entrepreneurs
Some of the ladies at the Ecosystem of Support for Women Entrepreneurs hosted by the Small Business Development Center of Palm Beach County.

3. Find networking events that are focused on your industry.  Meetup.com is a great place to do that these days. Try to attend at least one networking event every week. The key to these networking events are to FOLLOW UP! Yes, that means call or email the next day. Do NOT take a page out of your dating book and avoid calling the people you met! Take notes on their business card so you remember what you talked about with that person and mention your conversation in an email or phone follow-up. Networking is a lot like dating, genuine interest in the other person and listening instead of doing all the talking will get you a long way.
For each of these networking venues it’s essential that you FOLLOW UP and track your actions. Use a tool such as Insightly (no, I’m not getting kickbacks unfortunately, this is just my favorite CRM so far) to manage your contacts, set reminders for follow-ups and keep track of your interactions.

You have a lot more tips, pointers, and resources coming your way so stay tuned for more on how to USE PEOPLE in business!

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Tags: networking boca raton, networking events, sba, sbdc, small business administration, small business development center, small business networking,
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