You have probably heard about hundreds of success stories that are based on networking. It’s one of the things entrepreneurs keep on yapping about whenever they come together. If you are launching a startup, you may have some reservations about networking, especially if you are not a fan of social interactions. But I am here to convince you otherwise.
Most business people tend to be loners. Whether you are running an eCommerce store or have set up shop somewhere, your interactions may be limited to only customers. However, having valuable contacts can do wonders for your enterprise. Networking allows you to gain knowledge from like-minded individuals. You also get the opportunity to learn from the failures or successes of fellow business people. There are plenty of benefits you can get from having contacts within your industry.
What is Networking?
Networking is all about building contacts within your niche or industry with the aim of creating mutually beneficial relationships. Most people assume that networking is all about sharing business cards. But to build a strong relationship, you must be active and constant. Networking can happen anywhere from business seminars to having coffee after work with people who operate in a similar environment.
The best part about networking is that it’s constantly growing. You can start with two or three contacts. And within a year, you may have at least 20 strong contacts.
What are the Benefits of Networking?
Contrary to popular opinion, networking doesn’t only bring you employment opportunities. Here are some benefits you and your business can enjoy from having professional and reliable contacts.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. All businesses can benefit from more leads. The more clients you get, the more revenue your business generates. You can get more sales opportunities through networking, especially if you are running a B2B company. Even B2C companies can also get referrals to clients.
Insight into Industry Standards
This advantage applies more to startups. If you have just ventured into a new business, learning how this industry operates may take some time. Networking can speed up that process by introducing you to the best practices and strategies in that niche. From fellow business owners, you can gain in-depth insight into how to survive in a particular niche.
Keep Up with the Latest Trends
Whether it’s marketing or customer service, things are constantly changing. But, if you spend all your time behind a computer or counter, you will never know what’s happening in your business world. Networking gives you real-time updates on the latest innovations or trends. This will keep you up to pace with recent developments.
Boosts Brand Awareness
As you introduce yourself and your business to other people, you are indirectly marketing your brand. You never know who might be your next customer. Therefore, the more you interact and talk about your business. You are making it more popular.
An Opportunity to Get Mentorship
To prove how effective networking is. If you look at accomplished entrepreneurs, you will notice that they have lots of contacts. Some industry leaders are generous and willing to share their experiences with upcoming business owners. As a newbie, you can leverage networking to get mentorship from these individuals.
Where Can You Get Business Contacts?
From the above, it’s evident that networking is a highly successful strategy. But where can you get these business contacts? I can tell you for a fact that you won’t get them when you stay locked up in your office or house. You have to go out there and look for them.
Here are some great places for you to get business contacts and network;
- Trade fairs, exhibitions, and industry-specific events.
- Local entrepreneurial meetings.
- Seminars and conferences.
- Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Understandably, not many entrepreneurs have the time or energy to make physical interactions. But you can utilize social media to get business contacts. Online, there are many groups where you can meet fellow like-minded individuals and share personal contacts.
At the same time, I would like to encourage you to make some effort and attend seminars, trade fairs, or local business events. It’s much easier to form mutually beneficial relationships in person. Who knows? You could even meet a lifelong business partner in one of these meetings.
Still, on where you can get business contacts, it’s imperative to network with as many groups as possible. When you confine yourself to one small group, such as self-employed persons, you may limit the power of networking. Interact with different people. That’s the only way you can get unique ideas or inspirations.
Networking Tips for Business Owners
Does networking sound like something you and your business can benefit from? Here are some tips you can use to get many business contacts.
List Your Goals and Objectives
You need to ask yourself – what do you intend to achieve from your business contacts? Do you want to boost brand awareness, increase sales or gain industry knowledge? With a clear goal in mind, it will be easier to find the right networks.
Invest in Quality Networks and Not Quantity
The goal of networking isn’t to have many business networks. Your primary objective is to have quality business contacts you can rely on. You would rather have 10 solid contacts than 100 who are unreachable or inaccessible. Therefore, invest your time and effort into these relationships.
The best approach to networking is to be genuine. Don’t be too focused on yourself that you don’t prioritize the needs of others. Be yourself, and do not impersonate other people. For example, if you are new to that business, don’t pretend to be an industry leader. Such an approach can make you miss out on mentorship opportunities.
As mentioned earlier, don’t just hand out business cards and assume you are networking. Instead, be more involved with building professional relationships. Attend as many meetings as possible, and don’t be afraid to send emails or messages to your contacts every once in a while.
Offer Assistance Where Possible
Networking isn’t all about taking. You also have to give something in return. So make yourself available to your networks whenever they need assistance. Even if you can’t be of service, feel free to refer them to someone else who might help.
Create a Professional Pitch
If you are just getting started with networking, you need to come up with a professional pitch. This pitch should highlight who you are, what you do, and why you are interested in forming a connection with them. Make sure that you personalize the pitch. If it’s too vague, it may not have a very strong impact.
That’s everything you need to know about networking. Always make sure that you are confident and forget to have fun.
Let Me Be Your First Business Contact!
If you are new to networking and don’t know where to start, I can be your first business contact. As the CEO of Marvel Marketing and MassCitizenPR, I believe we can form a mutually beneficial and professional relationship. I’m very passionate about helping other people, and I also have strong contacts that I met in the past 12 years. You can connect with me on social media, and we can discuss more about networking.