As a business owner within any industry, networking should be a key activity that is not only fun, but critical to your personal growth and business development.
Businesses of any size is all about networking, building relationships and taking action.
Building a successful business takes a lot of time and drive, so it’s good to have a network of friends and associates to draw energy from and keep you going. By surrounding yourself with people who share a similar drive and ambition, you are more likely to move forward as a group.
But that’s not the only benefit of networking. In fact it’s only the beginning...
1. Shared Knowledge
Networking is great for sharing ideas and knowledge. Whether it’s asking for feedback or discussing your point of view, it will help you expand your knowledge and allow you to see things from another perspective.
It is also likely that within a group there will be those who have already been where you are today. This provides you with an opportunity to learn and avoid some of the common pitfalls they experienced.
Watching keynote speakers at events can also help you draw from the speakers expertise and experiences. Remember not everyone that stands up on stage wants to sell you something!
It’s natural that networking will result in opportunities. The thing you will not know is when or how they will materialise. Whether it’s a referral, offer, partnership or request for your service or product, it is important to be ready to seize opportunities when they come along.
Remember what Sir Richard Branson says about opportunities; "Say 'YES' and work out how to do it later!"
Remember you are not just gaining exposure to the people in the room, you are building connections with their network too. If someone they know has a need that matches your business, if you have made an impression, you will likely get a referral.
And remember it’s not just a one-way street. If someone in your network matches a business you encounter at an event, don’t hesitate to share their details. It will only strengthen your relationship.
A client of mine told me of her experience at a networking event: "This chap came up to me and spent five minutes telling me what he did. When he got around to asking me what I did, he rolled his eyes and walked away. It made me laugh. Because of his reaction, imagine if I'd had a brother, a son, a frelative or a friend that was worth millions and could have done business with him...would I ever recommend him? Er...no!"
4. Increased confidence
By regularly networking, and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know, it will help increase your confidence. This is an important attribute as a business owner, because your business growth is dependent on talking to people and making connections.
If you're shy to begin with attempt to go the networking events where you haven't got to stand up and speak infront of the crowd.
5. Raising your profile
Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. By regularly attending business and social events, people will begin to recognise you. This can you help to build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by offering useful information or tips to people who need it. You are also more likely to get more leads and referrals as you will be the one that pops into their head when they need what you offer.
Marc is co-running some Breakfast Networking Events in Worcestershire. We aim to give value to the people who attend, so we'll have two speakers giving short-no selling- motivational presentations on things that can help any business owner; round table networking where the people who attend can help each other with their knowledge and experiences through business issues as well as other networking opportunites, with breakfast, tea and coffee! For more details click on THIS LINK!