Christopher Davis, one of my Facebook friends, asked me to write an article about black business networking for the magazine, A Designers Portfolio. My first thought was there is no such thing as "Black Business" networking; There is just networking. As I sat down to write this article, I thought about how the black community networks differently than everybody else.
Let's first define networking. This is one of the many definitions of networking - a communication with and within a group. To me, networking is two or more people having a conversation about business. This simple definition allows networking to occur any time or any place. We can network one-on-one at a specified event, birthday party, club, client location, hospital, conference call, blogtalk radio(with the host and their guests) and even on-line (Read Social Media for Business)! Thanks Tai Goodwin, the interview on the Career Makeover Coach Radio show went very well and I made 12 new facebook friends! Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, has a network. When you meet someone, just imagine their 250 friends, relatives and business associates standing in front of you. The person in front of you represents their network. That is why I get so excited when I meet someone, I can grow my network by finding resources within to fulfill their need. Today (and everyday) was a great day for networking!
My first client of the day was Orchid Blue Hair Salon. My task was to improve their Facebook fan page. One of my suggestions was to not only show samples of the work but add the price so that clients who call already know they want your services (see below). Next week, I will show the salon how to create a unique URL for their fan page.
My second client was French Mobile Notary Services. I asked her to look into her network and find some referral partners (rehabs, nursing homes, hospitals) that could bring French mobile notary business. Specifically, I asked for businesses in her neighborhood. This is what network marketing calls memory jogging (taking inventory of your network) - just like that she thought of three referral partners to add to her prospect list.
My third unexpected client was a retired special education teacher with a curriculum for people coming from low-income homes and prisons. She needed a non-profit partner to launch her curriculum and apply for the PEPSI and GOOD.IS (http://www.refresheverything.com/) grant program. During our networking (conversation), I introduced her to Educatedsista organization and after our conversation she sent this message through Facebook "Nicole, I want to thank you once more for everything you've done for me. I also want to know if you sent me an invite to Orchid Blue Hair Salon because you noticed my bad hair do. :D I thought I couldn't afford to have it braided until you sent the link and I checked out the cost. I can do it! Thanks again!!"
Just two people sharing information IS networking. Now there is a difference in how black people network and everybody else. The events I attend at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce start early in the morning and networking happens BEFORE the event. Most events I attend in Philadelphia for black business start late in the afternoon and the best networking happens after the event. Knowing these subtle differences allows my company to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
Now that I have shared these networking Tips and Tricks - HAVE A GREAT NETWORKING DAY!