Neechie Gear is all about people. That’s why founder Kendal Netmaker decided to use the word ‘neechie’ in his company’s name, which means ‘my friend’ in Plains Cree language. Neechie Gear is an Aboriginal clothing company in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that outfits youth athletes across Canada and promotes the positive aspects of sports among youth. When it comes to building a strong network, Kendal had these tips to share with other entrepreneurs:
Build your network through social media. Our Facebook and Twitter accounts have become instrumental for our success. I think every business should experiment with different types of social media to grow their network and attract new customers. Sometimes we post an offer on Facebook and a customer will stop by and say. “I saw this deal on Facebook and wanted to take advantage of it.” In just over a year, our page went from 200 to over 4,000 ‘likes’.
Forget your fears – get out there and meet people! Although intimidating at first, networking in person is critical to growing your business. Like everything, it takes practice and patience to get the hang of and it doesn’t hurt to have an elevator pitch ready because you never know what kind of person you will meet who may be able to help your business in the future.
Perfect your elevator pitch. My business was made possible due to business plan/pitch competitions. I attended many workshops and the guidance of mentors there helped me perfect it. Plus, these competitions landed me thousands of dollars in start-up cash to get my business going and helped me avoid have to go to a bank for a loan. It is essential to know how to explain your business effectively in 30 seconds or less to gain investment opportunities or to just get people to purchase your product or service.
Make following up your responsibility. Follow up with people you just met that you truly want to keep in contact with or further discuss business. Don’t just wait for an email or phone call from them. Consider it your own responsibility to get in touch (especially after a networking session) because someone may forget your name if they are meeting lots of other new people as well.
Learn to ask for introductions. Asking for an introduction to someone new can be tricky depending how forward of a person you are. The more contacts you build up, the easier it will be to find more contacts through them. Just be positive, passionate about what you do and be willing to put yourself outside of your comfort zone by asking for an introduction from time to time.
Find out more about Neechie Gear at www.neechiegear.com.