Networking. Brrrr… even just reading the word is enough to send unnecessary shivers down your spine.
I say unnecessary because that’s what it is.
Networking is not something that we all enjoy and it certainly doesn’t come easy to most people. But it is a very powerful tool and if done correctly, it can help businesses to raise their company profile, build valuable business relationships and strengthen professional connections.
So, does it make sense to shy away from an activity that will ultimately aid your firm’s success?
Regardless of your current stance on the topic, networking is so important for businesses. Whether you’re in the start-up or scale-up stages of your entrepreneurial journey, networking will help to put your name into the public domain and complement other activities in your PR strategy.
We’ve explored the reasons why…
- Let people know that you exist, your achievements and how you can help their business.
In a typically British fashion, we’re not taught to sing our own praises or even talk about personal success. Whilst over the top boasting about your achievements is not going to win you any friends in business, carefully selecting the key pieces of positive information about your company in a 60 second pitch (see Entrepreneurial Spark for more on the 60-second pitch) will help to make you feel more confident. This pitch is a useful nugget of simple and succinct information which will help highlight the important parts of your company when it comes to engaging in conversations at networking events. It will also help to positively influence people’s perceptions about your business and its operations.
- Open-up a world of opportunities.
Networking is about forming mutual relationships with fellow professionals, building trust and helping others to work toward their own professional goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and keeping in touch with connections could also prove effective in leading to your next client, through word of mouth referrals. Much cheaper than advertising, networking is another method for raising your company profile within your local area and showcasing the real people behind your business.
- Share knowledge and inspiration.
Use networking events, speaker opportunities and seminars to showcase your industry expertise and help others that require your insider knowledge. A networking event is a fantastic platform to give others a taster of the services you have to offer. Equally, you may also find you come away from a workshop or networking event armed with new ideas and inspiration to help your own business grow.
- Ensure you’re engaging online.
Networking events will also often encourage online interaction during and after the event itself. Ensure you’re aware of any trending hashtags so that you can jump on conversations surrounding the event on social media. Snapping and tagging fellow attendees in pictures on your social media channels will help strengthen your relationship even after the event is over. Don’t forget to follow and connect with your new business contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn, you can even go one step further and add them to a unique Twitter list so you can easily access the delegates of the event, and remember where you met.
The bottom line is, professional networking is vital to both career and company growth. Getting to know people that can assist and potentially help you in return, will help your business to thrive.