Networking is a way of connecting with like-minded people in your niche, providing you with an ideal opportunity to share knowledge and experience.
Some entrepreneurs find networking overwhelming, while some feel that there’s no need to invest in something that may take a long time to pay off. Nevertheless, having a network of people, connections and contacts are more important for businesses.
Networking defines business relationships and can be the determining factor in success. It may be challenging for businesses to make sales and position themselves for growth without proper networking. Building a network is an excellent way to tap into new contacts, experiences, and knowledge as it broadens your community.
Advantages of Networking
Although many people dread selling themselves and the awkwardness associated with networking, it can significantly benefit your business growth. Consider some of its advantages:
· It Strengthens business connections
Networking involves forming trust among business owners and helping one another to achieve their goals. Regular contact engagement strengthens the relationship and puts you in line to receive help when you need it.
· It allows you to get fresh ideas.
Networks can be a great source of new ideas and perspectives that can be helpful in your role. It offers a great platform to exchange experiences, challenges, and goals, things you may not have thought of on your own. When you receive help from others, it makes them feel flattered and useful; thus, you build a reputation as an innovative thinker.
· It raises your profile.
A product of networking is getting you noticed and making you visible. Others will consider you an expert through regular attendance of social and professional events. This allows you to build your reputation as a knowledgeable, supportive and reliable member of your profession by offering tips/information to those in need.
Networking can undoubtedly be awkward and challenging for some people, but the benefits are worth sacrificing.
Best business networking tips to enhance your business value and visibility
This article aims to provide you with practical tips to help you navigate the networking process and reap its benefit. Consider some practical tips to master networking:
1. Be helpful
Offering help is a strategy that will earn you a good reputation since you are focusing on others and not yourself. Asking, “How can I help you?” is one of the most effective ways of building long-lasting connections. By helping others, you relieve their stress and add value to their lives, making you more likable.
You can be helpful by offering your time and knowledge in exchange for a new relationship with influential people. Providing help allows you to promote your networks ’accomplishments and work.
You get stronger when your network group gets stronger. When you help those in your network, they can reciprocate by helping you in the future.
2. Find a Mentor
A mentor is a great entrepreneurial asset since they can teach you what books can’t. Moreover, once you earn their trust, their network becomes your network. You can list a few people you would like to be your mentors and reach out to them.
Mentors have unique benefits to your development, including:
- Enhancing your self-confidence
- Developing your leadership skills
- Exposing you to different perspectives
- Help you build your problem-solving skills
- Help you maximize your business performance
As you network, learn from your mentors and work with them on various projects. You can also offer them value and tap into their connections and experience in a win-win situation.
3. Build a reputation
In business networking, people build relationships with those they deem valuable. A good reputation such as being helpful, talented, and valuable goes a long way in ensuring that people are excited to meet you and stay in touch with you. Finally, you will create a rich network of people with a similar passion. Additionally, you can enhance your reputation by letting your network know what you are doing through emails, conversations, or blogging.
4. Be Visible
Maintain consistent and regular communication with those you want to stay in touch with. You can connect with your potential network via social media platforms, email, or blogging. Continous interactions will help you be visible as you cement relationships and build trust. Make it your goal to attend regular networking events whenever they are organized and arrive early to associate with professionals.
5. Meet people everywhere
Some entrepreneurs are busy with their ventures that they have less time to meet people. However, networking presents you with various avenues to meet people by attending classes, interest groups, and business parties. You never know who you will meet in these groups.
Ensure you carry your business cards to market yourself and share your contact. Be a good friend to people you meet; you may find a new market in these forums by being kind. Business cards will help those who meet you remember your business after the event. Ensure that your business cards are optimal, with easy-to-find contact information.
However, avoid the habit of popping up and pushing your card at people and then vanishing to your next victim. Take time to talk and listen to others before giving them your card.
6. Be Intentional
Go where you are likely to meet the people you want to hang out with, offline and online. Spark interesting conversations and share valuable information with them. As you interact, remember good communicators are genuinely interested, care, and give their conversation partners full attention, creating deeper and long-lasting new connections. Ask follow-up questions on the other person’s business so that they can tell you have been listening to them. Active listening allows one to learn something new.
7. Network by Email
Networking by email requires doing research and isolating your target audience. This can effectively be done by reading their blog/social media posts. Checking your potential network’s posts will help you know what they love or concern them, and you can use these concerns to start conversion.
Keep track of them until you get a perfect opportunity to grab their attention. You can also share or comment on new information that you think can benefit your network. Furthermore, you can promptly arrange a meeting with the new connections or prospects if you get an opportunity.
8. Think of the other party
Smart networking is based on mutual benefits. Since you want to connect with like-minded in a win-win relationship, endeavor to add value to the other party’s life. Focusing on others will make you stand out in a world of ‘What’s in for me?’ attitude. While your business is similar to the other person, share different information and aspects that are beneficial to your prospective connection.
9. Think Long-Term
Networking is not just about connecting on social media platforms and exchanging business cards. Networking is valuable when mutually beneficial; long-lasting connections are formed. You need the patience to build lasting relationships and stay in touch with the people you like.
Another great way to widen your network and brand awareness is being socially responsible in the community where you live or your business is based. You could engage your employees in charitable activities or support a local sports team with uniforms and other supplies.
10. Follow Up
After the excitement of a new meet-up or attending a networking event, many opportunities are lost, promises of getting in touch are dishonored, business cards are misplaced, and the follow-up call is done far too late. Strike the iron while it’s still hot by being courteous and doing what you said you would do.
Such actions will impress upon others your good reputation as someone who delivers on their promises and is persistent. It is also important to follow up on people who promised to do something for you. Craft a thoughtful email that summarizes the interaction of your meeting and thank them for taking their time to speak with you.
Profitable and successful networking involves more than the tips mentioned above. However, if you can implement these tips, you will be several steps toward establishing great business networks and building long-lasting relationships essential to getting referrals and growing your business.
As hard as it may be, scheduling time for networking will go a long way in molding your business to success. Set small goals such as reaching out to one person a day and watch what happens. This simple gesture can open up massive opportunities for your business. You can learn a lot from people in your network who have expertise and experience. Remember, in networking; it doesn’t matter if you start small; what matters is whether you are consistent. This article is only a guide; customize your networking tips for better results.
Is there a networking formula that works well for you in this article that we haven’t touched on?