I’ve always had a niche for developing relationships. My role is working in business development and one of the key elements to my success is business networking. Business networking is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting tools you can use to grow your business. Here are some benefits and tips on how you can grow your business through business networking.
Generation of referrals/increased business
This is probably the most obvious benefit and the common reason most business owners participate in networking activities or join networking groups. Referrals are usually high-quality and you can usually follow up on these referrals/leads and convert them into clients. You can get much higher-quality leads from networking than other forms of marketing.
The increase in business from networking is a major advantage, but there are many others as well. Networking delivers more ROI than other business tools. We are talking about human relationships. Like a garden, they take time and nurturing to come to fruition. It is not instant gratification very often, but the best thing is that it can last a lifetime. It works, try it.
With a motivated group of business owners comes an abundance of opportunities! There are always lots of opportunities that come from networking and, in fact, this is where the benefits of business networking are endless. If you are not getting enough opportunities, it’s simple, you need to build your network. Opportunities could include joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing gigs along with businesses or assets bought and sold. The opportunities are only limited by your imagination. Be selective about the opportunities that you sign onto. The opportunities you get involved in should align with your business goals and vision, otherwise, you might find that you are spinning your wheels chasing after opportunities and getting nowhere.
Networking provides you with a great source of connections, and really opens the door to talk to highly influential people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily talk to or find.
Ask the right questions of those with whom you are networking. They will already have a network you can tap into as well. You will find that person may know those that you want to know! Networking is a great way to tap into advice, and expertise, or gain a mentor as well.
I can not stress enough the importance of surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting people that help you grow and thrive. You become who you associate with. Modeling successful people is a proven way to improve your own performance. What better than to be able to model people up close and personal? Gravitate towards people with a more positive mindset, who share your goals and values. Your selections will have a profound impact on your work and life, so choose well.
Remember, every single new contact you make is worth its weight in gold. While the impact may not be immediate, the compound effects of networking are significant and long-lasting.
This one is more personally related than business-related, but it is a big benefit nonetheless. Many friendships form as a result of networking because you are all like-minded people with the same goal to grow your businesses. You meet and help each other regularly, so naturally strong friendships tend to form. Some of your strongest friendships may start from networking.
Where to network
Depending on your industry and business goals, networking can happen anywhere you’re around other people. Here are some top business networking opportunities:
1. Online through LinkedIn and social media
2. Professional associations like BNI or another organized referral network
3. Casual networking events like neighborhood mixers or meetup groups
3. Industry gatherings, like trade shows, (Attending a trade show? here’s how to maximize your experience as an attendee, and here are our tips for designing your booth.)
4. Charity events or volunteering
If you want it to be YOU that everyone knows, thinks of, and recommends, you have to be a good networker and be comfortable building relationships. Just keep in mind it may take some time to see the results, but the compound effects of networking are significant and long-lasting.