Networking is a foundational activity for most businesses, and if done properly provides not only new clients for your company, but long-term relationships with other members of the business community. If you’re not networking, then you are missing out on a valuable tool to build your business and your brand!
Here are nine reasons why you should be networking for your business:
Build your brand
When you network and get your face and your name out there in the industry, you are biding trust, authority and credibility in you and your brand. Eventually, your goal is to become a recognized authority in your field with brand recognition that may even reach beyond your initial local market.
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This is the most obvious reason why people network in their business. When you get other business leads through networking, you can believe that they are going to be high quality leads. These leads can be turned into clients.
While this is true, you should also be patient. Networking helps build relationships that later turn into business. If you show up to every networking event always trying to sell something, you’re just going to be frustrated and lonely.
Again, a main purpose for networking is to build relationships. While you still want others to know what you do, you should consider how you can help others, too. Have real conversations with other networking attendees and see what frustrations they have. While it can be nice to vent about shared problems, you might also find something you can help with.
You know something someone else doesn’t. Being helpful can position you as an expert & go-to person in your area.
Partnerships, joint ventures, speaking engagements, increased sales, and client leads are just a few of the new opportunities that you may find through networking.
All of these are activities and opportunities that only come through building your authority and credibility and that is exactly what networking will help you do.
Stick with the opportunities that align best with your business and its goals, though, otherwise you’ll find yourself chasing rainbows instead and not really growing your business after all. The Opportunity Cost of taking on a new opportunity just because you can, might make you miss out on something better aligned later.
Expand your business contacts
This is something that people in network marketing or direct sales understand very well: it is not just the person standing in front of you – it is all the people that they know as well.
When you connect with others at business events, you open yourself and your business up to so many different resources. Your network of potential referrals expands exponentially with every new person you meet!
Find advisors, mentors, & peers
Business owners are often very open with other business owners, about various experiences and problems. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice and help in areas that are not your area of expertise.
Your network becomes a great place to seek advice, but also to feel connected with others sharing similar problems. This can be a great outlet if you feel alone in your business.
However, don’t expect permanent free help to take the place of paid services simply because you belong to the same networking group. Be realistic, and respect your advisor’s time and limitations, and return the favor when possible.
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Improve your mindset
You want to surround yourself with people you want to be like. Having a network of like-minded, supportive, and positive people has a tendency to rub off on you. It can only help you grow and thrive as a business owner.
Again, you might find solutions to problems by asking around. You can also use networking events as a low-risk testing ground.
You can use the immediate feedback – whether verbal or body language – to get a feel for different questions you might have. You might talk about possible ideas you have, test phrasing, or simply learn more about potential customers through conversations with other attendees. This can allow you to experiment with different ideas before spending more time on them in your business, website, processes, etc.
For example, you might test out different versions of an elevator pitch to see which phrasing resonates better with attendees. Then you can use the winning language to update similar paragraphs on your website.
Grow your confidence
Networking can be more than a little intimidating at first, but you will be amazed at how quickly your confidence will grow after a few meetings. You will begin to know a few people, so you are no longer walking into a room full of strangers, and people will approach you with a smile and a “how are you?” instead of “who are you?”.
The bottom line is that networking is well worth the few moments of discomfort you might have in the beginning – both for you and your business.