by Bob Salvas

One of the best ways to grow your promotional products business is to network. And when I say ‘network’, I am talking about good old-fashioned ‘face-to-face’ contact. There is nothing wrong with networking online but understand that it simply doesn’t replace live, in-person networking. If you don’t believe that, just take a look at any campaigning politician at almost any level from the very local to the national.

What do elections have to do with business? Well the fact is that we can learn a lot about why networking is important by watching candidates in action. When you really stop and think about it, an election is like a microcosm of a business. The campaign is simply the election’s marketing plan.

And I have never seen a successful political campaign that did not include the candidate getting out there and meeting the people. Never- not even once. That is because over the many years of elections in this country, people have figured out what works best and even today with social media, the internet, big media coverage and big advertising budgets, candidates STILL get out there, shake hands, and talk with the people who can make a difference for them. They do this because they KNOW it works.

I do understand that you may not be as outgoing as a typical politician. So if you are feeling a little intimidated by an open networking event, it can help to attend with a friend or to go to an event where you know you will know some of the people in the room. And it is ok to talk to those friends at the event. BUT it is important to force yourself to meet some new people. More than half of your time at an open business networking event should be talking to people you don’t really know…that is how you expand your network. So break away from the friends to go to the buffet line or the bar (even if you are not hungry or thirsty) just to make small talk and meet some new people!

Above all, understand WHY we network- the need for face-to-face communication is greater than ever in this high tech world. Take a page out of the election handbook and get out there and network for your business!