For entrepreneurs, business networking represents an important aspect for relieving the perceived loneliness of running a business, that is, by sharing business experiences. Learn some great benefits of this process as well as pitfalls you should avoid.
Importance of Business Networking
Serendipity – making your own luck!
Apparently, we are all optimistic and ambitious, I don’t think that’s necessarily true but the point is we are inherently hoping to make it at something. Last week I got this email to attend a requirements discussion session for a higher learning program. It’s not like I’ve never done this before but I found myself wondering whether this event was worth it. I did attend at the end of the day and created 2 business leads in the process. Ever talked yourself out of attending that conference? Unless the alternative is going to get you something better, put on your best suit and get networking.
Being in the right place at the right time!
Easier said than done. However, with a little bit of planning and forethought, you can take advantage of beneficial appointments, yes, that is right, appointments! Every year, there’s a farmer’s market in your neighborhood and you’ve been looking for opportunities to market your organic salads.
Helps to get the person who already needs your knowledge, skills, company, resources, etc. Scheduled events normally represent an opportunity to prepare well in advance. Impress your potential prospects and a whole network of referrers in the audience by ensuring you present your brand, products and/or services in ways that help you close deals that much faster.
Encourages who knows you not who you know! I have a friend who is a business development executive. He’s probably the most connected person I know, I kid you not. Just to illustrate the point I’m making, he closes on average 3 to 5 major firms on a retainer for this clients every week. He carries a networking bible, which is simply an album full of business cards.
Making your interests and needs widely known and listening to the interests and needs of others! Networking does not have to be for those with established businesses or even ideas, it can be for you, yes, you who has not contemplated that a couple of people you met wish they could solve their automation problems and you’re an enterprising engineer looking for entrepreneurial opportunities.
Engaging in a process not a goal. Well, the goal is somewhere along the lines of securing clients, growing your business, raising capital etc. However, the process is the plan of action to realize the goal. Engaging in the process is more relaxing and naturally sets you on the path to achieving the goal. So when you network, engage the personas of everyone you meet, converse as if you’ve known each other for ages, be yourself and think more about connecting rather than closing.
Increasing customer base. This one’s a no-brainer. The more you network, recall right place and right time, the more you garner a market for your business.
Encourage business -to -business activities. Business networking is a good platform to gain B2B contacts and markets.
Sharing of technology. Business networking makes it easy to capture technology leads and exchange information that’s relevant and useful for your business.
Pitfalls of Business Networking
Multiplication of ideas (no innovation) – you’ve got to be careful to avoid this especially when you’ve just started out or you’re looking to start out. Be focused.
Costly, although this does not necessarily have to be the case. Some events charge an entrance fee, others require long travel and overnight stays. Do your research before hand and understand your priorities.
Encourage sabotage – with tonnes of ideas being discussed and information being shared, naturally, there is an element of sabotage that may play out. As with business, your competition, whether current or potential will attend networking events. Avoid oversharing and be careful letting everyone in on sensitive data that could make or break your business.