Networking advice for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs
See Jane network—An infinitely-better way to build your business through networking
I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jane at a small business networking meeting in Scottsdale. Random chance placed we two somewhat introverted people at the table next to each other, and for the first 5-10 minutes we didn't speak to each other at all. This of course defies traditional networking convention. Within a minute or so of sitting down I wondered if I should have introduced myself; given Jane my sales pitch and business card? Am I losing a sale here, and should I just forget about networking because I am not good at it?”

In a word, "no."
After a while Jane and I finally did get to talking. I learned that Jane is a fine artist. However, beyond that I learned she has a background in computer graphics/3d modeling and working with a very high profile computer gaming company - all of which I find interesting. And this, rather than focusing on how I can help her business and vice-versa, was the topic of conversation over the next ten minutes. I learned about Jane as a person, an artist, and a small business owner, and not once during the conversation did she ever focus on what she and her business could get out of talking with me. Jane focused on establishing a personal connection rather than making a sale.
Congratulations, Jane, you get it.
We talked for awhile and Jane did actually ask me for my business card—that's important to note that she asked for the card. This is called permission marketing (Jane gave me permission first before I provided her with some marketing collateral), and it is best way to promote/network your business. In turn, I asked Jane for her business card, and it’s important to point out at that point I was truly interested in learning about her business and how I might be able to help her. But it wasn't until we both had made a small investment in the personal relationship first. Jane even was kind enough to offer to email over a software program that she was using to test drive.
Again, Jane gets it.
So why and how did this networking connection work? You can come up with your own theories, I am convinced it worked because each person:
*  Invested in the relationship first rather than what they can get
*  Gained permission first to market their business
*  Wanted to provide value for the other person  
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