Business owners of all sizes are always looking for new and effective ways to grow their business. Whether it be through online/offline marketing, hiring new staff or simply moving into new offices, this process can be scary and there is always the potential risk of spending money without a return on investment.
However, networking is a great and relatively cost-effective way of making those business connections that really count. Networking events allow you to communicate ideas with people in your industry, gain new insights and forge relationships that would not have happened in any other environment.
Take a look at these 3 huge reasons why, as a business owner, networking is crucial:
1. Make relationships that matter
Building a relationship with an influencer in your industry is never a waste of time. Whether what you intended to get from them came to fruition or not, make a good impression as a few years down the line your paths may cross again.
A strong back catalogue of relevant connections can open many doors for you that would remain firmly shut if you were to go at everything alone. From being introduced to potential clients and employers to potential business partners, the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been truer.
Make life easier for yourself. The most successful people in business are not necessarily those who work the hardest, it’s those who work the smartest (and those whom are likeable and regularly network!)
2. Boost your people skills
Let’s be honest, not everyone has the personality and confidence of a TV host. Your current job may mean that you can go weeks without seeing anyone else but the Dominos delivery guy – but don’t worry!
Networking events are usually very relaxed gatherings where like-minded professionals will be in the exact same shoes as you. It’s crucial for small business owners to get an understanding of what makes other professionals tick and, by attending these events, you’ll begin to know exactly what questions to ask, what comments to make and how to present your ideas better and more quickly.
There is no better excuse to hone your elevator pitch than at an event where people have come to hear it!
Networking is not just something you should be doing at the start of your career to get yourself up and running (although this is probably the most important time to do so).
Networking should continue throughout your career as it will help you to refine those communication skills, listening skills problem solving and negotiating skills as you progress through life.
3. Share insight
Networking is a brilliant arena for sharing ideas and insight about your industry with the people within it.
Networking allows you to break out of the narrow tunnel vision that you may have created for yourself whilst working constantly with a set few people. The professionals you meet at a networking event may come from a wide variety of backgrounds, each bringing novel and unique perspectives that you never previously considered.
The feedback gained from such interactions is a gold mine. Many companies pay big bucks for feedback and recommendations and you can glean it all for free.
I could write a whole other blog post on what to bring with you, what to give out and what to take away from networking events, but that’s for another day. However, make sure that you capitalise on the connections you make instantly, whilst they are still warm to you. Follow up with emails, connect on LinkedIn and keep the conversation going… who knows what it may lead to!