In order to expand your business, you need to build and maintain productive relationships, not just with your customers, but also with other professionals and decision-makers. Businesses do not operate in a vacuum, and other traders and businesspeople can be an invaluable source of inspiration, advice, and opportunities. The purpose of master business networking is to build relationships with the hope that these relationships can help your business.
Is networking important for your business?
When running a small business, it’s easy to get caught up in your own bubble. By staying connected to your peers in the business world, you can ensure that you are current with the latest developments. Keeping up with technological advances is especially important so you don’t get left behind as your competitors do. You should also be aware of any changes in regulations as early as possible. It is possible to gather a lot of useful information through the grapevine.
As an added benefit of master business networking, you will be able to access a broader knowledge base and a richer source of expertise. It’s true that you can search online for what you’re looking for – but personal recommendations and connections are also extremely valuable. Additionally, you can gain special deals and favors if you are able to reciprocate.
Business networking types
Networks are best created organically, in environments that are specifically designed for that purpose. It is not uncommon for master business networking to take place within another event, for example, a seminar or conference, even if networking is the main reason people attend.
The following are some of the most popular venues for networking.
Networks of informal communication
There are a number of local business groups that bring together local business people no matter what sector they may be in. Members of these types of groups can seek general advice and support from their peers, or discuss larger issues such as government policy. Nevertheless, they aren’t as effective for finding business contacts since they aren’t industry-specific.
Associations of professionals
To address the challenges and opportunities associated with a particular sector, these groups bring together professionals from that sector. You can enhance your professional standing and boost your brand recognition by becoming an active member of one of these organizations. Being a member of one of these organizations can also allow you to recruit talented people in your field.
Contact networks that are strong
The purpose of these is to help members gain more business. You should try to reach out to these groups if you want to find new clients or opportunities.
Groups in the community
Members of these groups tend to focus on serving the local community rather than trying to find more work, but if you offer services that can be used locally, such as landscaping and plumbing, you can attract a substantial amount of business. In addition to promoting yourself to the local community, you are also improving it, which is a win-win situation.
Seminars and conferences
There will usually be networking events or areas at conferences. Many will allow you to book rooms in advance or during the event so that you can host meetings with other companies. A conference can attract an array of companies, from established brands to eager start-ups, so even walking around and giving out your business cards can be effective.
Networking in business has many benefits
By properly planning and executing your master business networking, you can:
- Establish relationships with new partners
- So that you can receive referrals
- As well as information about your competitors
- During the recruitment process
- To spread awareness about your business
- And keep up with industry trends
- Ask for advice on problems you are facing
- Discover upcoming technologies and business strategies that could help your business become more efficient and productive
You should always remember that master business networking is not just about getting new clients and increasing your sales. Additionally, it can help your business operate more efficiently and help you grow in other significant areas. Increasing your network is useful in itself since it makes you more attractive to others who want to network with you. A may not be of interest to B, but if B knows C (and A needs C), then B becomes very useful indeed.
The best tips for networking
A master business networking plan is essential to making the most of it. As well as you, your peers are seeking to benefit from networking, so think about how you can help them. Research events in advance and find out who may be attending (or is likely to attend). Create a ‘hit list’ of the people you most want to speak with, and think about what you can do to make each one memorable and interesting.
- Face-to-face meetings remain the most effective means of establishing a relationship, despite how easy it is to reach people through social media.
- Do not treat networking events as a place where you gain contacts without giving anything back. Contribute your expertise, ideas and support.
- You will benefit more from one productive meeting than 20 poorly-prepared and rushed ones.
- Build a 60-second elevator pitch that highlights your core business functions and benefits, then practice it until it comes naturally.
- Demonstrate your experience by providing examples of work you’ve done or clients you’ve worked with.
Follow-up is perhaps the most important master business networking tip. Do not let your business cards gather dust until you need that person – they will have forgotten about you by then. Follow up with the person after an initial conversation. Try to get them to know you by meeting for coffee, connecting on social media, sending them a free sample, or inviting them to your next event.
Networking is labor-intensive, but if you put time into it, your contacts list can become one of your most valuable assets.