Effective networking is a powerful, but often undervalued, tool to grow your business. Although you may not see instant rewards, cultivating your network is worthwhile in the long term. Here are our some of the top benefits of networking, how to get started, and how to network effectively.
The value of relationships is at the heart of networking
Networking allows you to take advantage of ‘word of mouth’, and that’s often the biggest reason a potential client will trust your business. Someone is far more likely to try your service or product when you’ve been personally recommended.
Networking can also help you build a support system for yourself and your business. By surrounding yourself with people who understand your world, and bring different ideas, you’ll have company on your business journey. Furthermore, sharing your successes makes them more enjoyable.
You can start building networks at any stage
It’s easier than ever to start networking. One of the simplest places to begin is with people you already know. People usually enjoy the social kudos of being able to make a recommendation. All you need to do is let them know you’re keen to make new connections. If this feels uncomfortable, then try talking it through with your Mentor. They’re there to help you with clarity and confidence.
If you’re setting out to build brand new networks, then world is at fingertips – literally. You can start by joining social media groups and following pages of interest. The Business Mentors New Zealand pages on Facebook and LinkedIn are good places to connect online. You’ll also find groups that will give you an opportunity to participate in discussions, ask questions, and be ready to offer your services if people are seeking help.
If you’d prefer to make connections face-to-face, keep an eye out on events that will attract people with complementary interests. Your industry may have showcases or briefings. Alternatively, you may find other events where you can learn as you meet others.
Practice helps when it comes to networking.
Events are a great way to grow your confidence in networking. Fortunately, networking is one of those things that gets easier with practice.
At most events, you'll be able to find something in common with other attendees to help strike up a conversation. It might be as simple as 'How did you hear about this event?" or "Which of the canapes do you think I should try first?".
Taking a genuine interest in others frees you from worrying about how to 'pitch' yourself. Ask about another person's business, challenges, and opportunities. If you're able to pass on a helpful piece of information or contact, they'll be pleased to share their details. It's likely the conversation will then naturally turn to you.
If you're at a busy event, be sure not to get too focused on one person. Be ready to conclude a conversation politely so you can both make the most of meeting others. You can follow up later with those you connect with and keep getting to know them.
Effective networking happens when you keep to your values
Effective networking means building strong relationships. People will appreciate their relationship with you when they can see you’re prepared to invest time and energy rather than just taking what you can. Like the relationship you grow with a Business Mentor; you get out what you put in.
The effectiveness of networking also relies on your approach. Though networking can feel casual and comfortable, you are representing your business every step of the way. The way you handle every interaction shows something about the way you do business.
The benefits of networking are far-reaching
A strong network is an extremely powerful asset to your business and building one doesn’t hurt your wallet. You can start investing in the future of your business by allocating time to engage online, to attend events or to keep in touch with people you already know. If you invest time and care in building relationships, you’ll eventually enjoy the dividends of new customers, a broader support system and people with whom you can celebrate success.
If you already have a Business Mentor, a network can help take your business even further. If you don’t yet have a Mentor, then you’re missing out on a valuable source of support. You can take the first step to find a Business Mentor by clicking here.