Networking is a hugely valuable but under-utilized tool for dance studio owners, and despite it sounding like a whole lot of work (plus, you’ve got so much on your Netflix watch-list that is screaming out to you) it’s certainly worth considering as part of your bigger picture marketing strategy.
When creating your networking plan, first you need to figure out why you want to network. Is it just so you can enroll more students in your classes? Are you trying to gain new long-term contacts ? Maybe you want to work on professional development and learn from other business advisers in your area? You could network to better position yourself as an expert in your field, or it could be to secure strategic partnerships.
Whatever the reason for networking, set goals to aim for and estimate the number of contacts you will need. Then, identify the kind of people you need to meet. Review your networking efforts to see what strategies worked best.
The first thing you need to do (which is generally very helpful, regardless of what your networking goals are) is to write an “elevator pitch.” An elevator pitch gives the people you meet a quick look at your business. It is a simple but powerful tool where you include the following information:
- Who you are
- What you do
- The problem you solve
- Who you serve
- What makes you different
- What you want to happen next
Use your elevator pitch for a concise and memorable way to explain more about your dance studio. When presenting this pitch, you want to be comfortable, so practicing it helps you to sounds natural. Always make sure the pitch reflects both your brand and your ‘why.’
When it comes to networking, you also need to really pay attention and listen to what other people are saying. Peers and potential clients can offer valuable insights that will help you make better studio decisions. Show that you’re interested in conversations and be a good listener.
Good first impressions are another important part of networking so whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or talking to someone you’ve known for 15 years, always be courteous and professional. You also should be personable when you meet with your connections. Even though you’re in a business setting, don’t be afraid to be warm and engaging; tell a personal story when it’s relevant, for example. Your network should be built on people you want to work with and people who want to work with you.
As a dance studio owner you have the advantage of creating meaningful connections within your neighborhood. A strong network of businesses within a community creates a healthy local economy and becoming a part of your community will help your studio and other like-minded small business owners succeed. You can achieve this by being an active player in your local business scene. Volunteer and attend local events that give back to the community. Support other small businesses by shopping locally and becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce. Attend conferences, host a networking event and participate in community events.
Don’t forget – following up is one of the most crucial elements to networking in any business.
As you build your network, don’t wait for new connections to contact you – do a 24-hour follow-up with the people you meet. This will help foster valuable relationships so that they don’t fizzle out. When you follow up, mention some specific points from your conversation. It might be a good idea to write down key details right after the meeting. If next steps were discussed initially, talk about them in the follow-up.
Also, give new connections a way to follow up with you. Business cards are still perfect for this and always put your contact information on your website, social media accounts and marketing materials.
For more resources, training and support in growing the studio of your dreams, join our vibrant community of studio owners in the Dance Studio Owners Association.