All businesses – no matter small or big – should always look for ways to grow, and improve. One of the proven methods to do so is to connect with others, be it potential customers, business owners, or other individuals.
This process is called networking. So, how to grow your business through networking, you ask?
Let’s get started with the answers.
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How to Grow Your Business Through Networking: 7 Tips
- Determine Your Goals
- Attend Networking Events
- Be Social Everywhere
- Join Groups
- Develop Personal Connections
- Practice Your Skills
- Try to Follow Up
1. Determine Your Goals
Naturally, business networking should begin with the proper planning and determination of your goals. Why do you want to start networking, what types of people are you hoping to meet, and so on?
If you haven’t considered the answer to the about questions, you risk simply attending events, without really gaining any benefits, just because you’re not sure what you want to achieve.
2. Attend Networking Events
You can participate in online events, but nothing beats the real-life experience you get when you meet in person. What’s important is that you know the right events to participate in, where you have a high chance of meeting the right people.
Think about business networking events, and other gatherings that are related to your business and goals. For example, a small business producing fruits and vegetables might find perfect business partners or opportunities at a farmers market conference.
Remember that the main importance of networking in business is always to meet new people.
3. Be Social Everywhere
Of course, great business connections can be found anywhere, not just at the occasional social events. So, don’t be shy, and always look for good opportunities. For example, you could start talking to the other parents at your kid’s sporting events, or to people that attend the same gym as you.
Still, don’t follow the pushy sales/desperate route. If people are not interested in what you say, stop there. However, if you notice that the other person is curious about your business, go for it.
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4. Join Groups
As you might have guessed, attending events is not enough. So, why not join relevant business groups as well?
So many groups exist on social media that have the sole purpose of connecting like minded people. What’s more, you can use these groups to test your skills and see how others react to your propositions.
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5. Develop Personal Connections
It’s always good to “know a guy”, or to “know a guy that knows a guy”. In other words, developing long-term personal relationships that can be useful in a lot of situations, business-related or not.
The takeaway point here is that whatever types of business networking you venture into, try to establish fruitful, lasting relationships, not just encounters with people where you forget their names the next day.
6. Practice Your Skills
They say practice makes perfect, and it’s true. It’s completely normal to feel shy, and socially awkward in the beginning.
However, with the right attitude and the willingness to improve your skills and learn from people, you can go far in your networking endeavors.
On the other hand, if you approach networking events with the mindset that you are the smartest person in the room, well, you probably won’t make many connections.
Approach the process of networking one step at a time. If you’re an introvert, start out by trying to talk to a few people. Always be humble, positive, and think about others.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want directly, as a lot of people appreciate an honest, straightforward approach.
7. Try to Follow Up
Again, you will not grow your business through networking, unless you establish long-term relationships.
Did you have a nice conversation with someone? Get their email address, and shoot them an email. Was there a cool thought or idea someone mentioned? Write down their phone number, and call them.
Business networking ideas often remain just that… ideas. If you want to be serious and take actions, it’s mandatory to follow up.
What Are the Benefits of Building a Business Network?
In case you’re still uncertain about networking, here are some of the main advantages for your business.
- Source for ideas. The network you create can be an excellent source for ideas. Not only that, you can gain insights that would be otherwise inaccessible, or simply exchange information or ask for help, if needed. People are usually very willing to help when asked.
- Get noticed. Apart from meeting new people, networking is a great way to spread the word about your business, and get noticed. Furthermore, your face and your name will start getting noticed and recognized, if you’re a regular attendant.
- Social skills. It’s important for every business owner, executive, and others, to have good social etiquette, and skills. One of the most pleasant ways to develop such is by attending events, meeting people, and practicing your skills.
- Benchmark. Networking events are also a great place to measure how your business is doing compared to others that have similar businesses. You might be able to even establish what’s wrong with your business if it’s going poorly, or get a better understanding of the best practices within the industry.
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What About Digital Social Networking?
In recent years, the global pandemic has forced us to change a lot of aspects in our lives and how we do business. One of the things affected was networking.
Websites like LinkedIn and Twitter were already largely popular before the pandemic. However, once the pandemic began impacting everybody worldwide, live gatherings were limited or entirely forbidden, and social platforms skyrocketed in popularity. Furthermore, platforms like Whatsapp, Slack, and WeChat benefited greatly in terms of networking opportunities, too.
Of course, the same principles apply now as back then when networking on LinkedIn or on any other social network.
For example, you should:
- Complete your profile. This includes adding a headline, summary, current job title, profile and background photos, work experience, education, etc.
- Optimize your profile. Write a compelling summary, a descriptive work experience section, emphasizing on what you did, not just where you worked, an effective headline, and professional looking photos.
- Receive endorsements. It’s important for others to see that your former colleagues and/or managers were happy with your work and would recommend you to others.
- Join groups and connect with people. Again, you need to be social and active. Look for relevant groups to join, and grow your connections by adding both people you know and strangers that you deem as worthy and useful.
You were looking for answers on how to grow your business through networking. You’ve found them, good job.
Networking can truly be beneficial for all kind of businesses, the key to success is to be flexible, honest, and approachable. You only need to develop your social skills, care about others, and try to form long lasting relationships with people you meet.