For many entrepreneurs, networking can be awkward or uncomfortable. But no matter the industry, the connections formed at these events are critical to helping business owners grow their companies.
“I believe the web is at the heart of building a personal brand and an organization’s brand,” says Angie Juzang, marketing expert and co-founder of Legacy Business League. “There’s a saying in business that it’s who you know that matters, but more importantly, who knows you. If you don’t interact or engage with someone in your organization, when they have the opportunity to build a relationship with you, they won’t. will recognize your name or your business.”
Juzang frequently coaches business owners on how to make the most of networking opportunities, even those based on casual interactions. She reminds them to talk less about themselves and more about how they help others achieve their goals. Sharing personal anecdotes can make interactions more memorable. And, everyone should bring business cards—whether physical or digital—to social events to share with others.
“Once you start talking, that’s where you start building relationships and generating more interest in your business,” says Juzang. “Prepare your elevator pitch and make eye contact when you’re talking to people. Just like Maya Angelou Saying it – people will always remember how you made them feel.”
Helping business owners network is one aspect of Hancock Whitney’s Small Business Affairs program, which provides training and resources to local entrepreneurs. In recent years, Hancock Whitney has partnered with the Legacy Business League to ensure that entrepreneurs from minority and underrepresented backgrounds have the same access to these services and an equal opportunity to help their companies succeed.
Additionally, the Legacy Business League provides a platform for business owners and professionals to hear from guest speakers, learn about financing and marketing, become a community advocate, receive mentorship, and guide first-time home buyers through the buying process.
“We wouldn’t be able to have the footprint we have now if we didn’t have Hancock Whitney in our corner,” Juzang said. “We’ve been able to give grants to entrepreneurs who are fully funded by Hancock Whitney. They understand the value of entrepreneurial success and are involved in teaching them. They don’t sell a product. They sell a way of life. I have learned a lot from the professionals at Whitney about how I should approach people seeking help. It has been an extremely valuable relationship and we are very grateful for it.”
As more people consider starting their own business, Juzang said they must prepare themselves for the rigors of being an entrepreneur, both financially and emotionally. They should also have a solid business plan that includes a marketing strategy and ensures their company is sustainable in the long run.
“The beauty of our work with Hancock Whitney is that they asked these fundamental questions,” Juzang said. “Too many people don’t ask for help or don’t know where to go. That’s why we do what we do. We’re here to connect individuals with these partners so they can exchange ideas and resources.”
For more information on the Legacy Business League, visit www.legacybusinessleague.org. For more information on Small Business Matters, visit https://www.hancockwhitney.com/small-business-matters.