As an entrepreneur, the benefits of networking are critical to your personal growth and business development. 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.
A key element to effective networking is to make yourself known. The principle being that the more people you meet, the more people there will be to get to know and remember both you and your business. You should use every professional and social opportunity to meet and connect with new people.
Here are some of the biggest advantages of networking.
Business Leads: Networking is a great way to acquire new business leads. Using the contacts you make when you meet people can open doors for business opportunities. Communicate professionally when you follow up on leads. People want to help others but aren’t interested in someone badgering them for business. Be sensitive to timing and use common courtesy when following up with contacts.
Get fresh ideas: Your network can be an educational source of new perspectives and creative ideas to help you along your business journey. You can never tell how much a person knows just by looking at them. People who join network groups are seeking to learn new business strategies and share their personal growth experiences.
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.
Connections: 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.
New Business Trends: Networking can help you stay on the cutting edge of technology and new business trends. These types of relationships and “inside” information can give you an advantage over your competitors by implementing new and fresh ways of doing things.
If you’ve ever found yourself needing a resource, a new employee or just a fresh perspective, networking can connect you to those with answers.
No matter your business size, scale or sector, creating connections and associations is crucial to business success. Whether those ties are as small as one impactful conversation or as large as an ongoing partnership, business success is built on connection
For help growing your network, look for local meet-ups and local organizations that hold regular events such as your local chamber of commerce. Every industry has conferences and trade shows that provide great networking opportunities as well.