Everyone knows the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking is a big part of your daycare business success and growing enollments, but it’s more than just collecting business cards and chatting at cocktail parties. Follow these steps to build a network that will support you in the long run:
- Help other people. Networking shouldn’t be self-centered. You’ll collect more contacts if you concentrate on what you can do for other people (sharing information, providing introductions, volunteering your services) rather than on what you want out of them.
- Start on a modest scale. You don’t need to amass a list of 100 new contacts at a single networking event. Begin with a reasonable goal, like one or two new names. Rely on your current friends and contacts at first, then branch out slowly to gather more.
- Use the power of the name. When meeting potential additions to your network, be sure to get their names and use yours. Train yourself to remember names so you don’t fumble and embarrass yourself at a second meeting. When introducing yourself, speak your name clearly so people will pick up on it and remember it later.
- Connect people within your network. One of the most powerful ways to network is to put contacts in touch with other people in a position to help them. Always be looking for introductions you could make, proving that you’re genuinely interested in helping the people you meet instead of getting something from them.
- Be flexible. Planning out what you want to say to a new contact or what you want to accomplish at a conference is fine. Just don’t lock yourself in. Reciting a canned “elevator speech” to everyone you meet won’t impress many listeners. Adjust to the situation, be warm and genuine, and accept that you’ll have good days and poor ones when networking