Networking is a type of socioeconomic business activity where entrepreneurs and business people meet to establish business relationships and to act upon, create, or recognise business opportunities, seek out prospective partners for ventures, and share information.
Networking is used by small business owners as a way to form relationships with other business people, in related or like fields, that help to expand the ability of their business to grow, form partnerships, and find new customers.
Making yourself known is one of the key factors for effective networking. The concept here is that the more people that you meet, the more people you can get to known and who will remember your business and you. You should use all social and professional opportunities to connect and meet new people.
The following are some of the key reasons that show why networking is so important for small businesses.
1. Business Leads
A great way to obtain new business leads is networking. Using your contacts from the people that you meet will open up new business opportunities for you.
When you are following up on your leads, be sure to communicate professionally. People like helping others but they are not interested in those who badger them for their business. When you are following up with your contacts, use common courtesy, and be sensitive about timing.
2. Identify Best Practices
One of the best ways to identify industry benchmarks or business best practices is networking. Learning from others and what they do is an invaluable strategy for any business.
For example, when you are a restaurant owner and a restaurant association member you can learn about the latest software programs that other members are using, or employee management practices you can use to help your business.
3. New Business Trends
Another way that networking can help your business is it can allow you to stay current with new business trends and on the cutting edge of new technology. This insider information and types of relationships can provide you with an advantage over the competition by allowing you to implement fresh and new ways to do things.
However, it is important to keep in mind that networking is a type of skill that some people are more naturally good at than others, when it comes to making a new friend when they first meet or socializing with people they do not know.
Practice learning how to strike up conversations and being friendly. Learn how to remember the names of people you meet. Develop a system. Write down something specific about the individual on their business card to help you remember them after you have returned to your office.
4. Increase Your Confidence
When you network on a regular basis, it pushes you to speak to people you do not know. The more you do it, the more your confidence will increase. This is very important for business owners since the growth of your business depends on making connections and talking to people.
Networking is excellent for individuals who are lacking in confidence since it pushes them to grow and to learn how to strike up conversations and make lasting connections with new people.
It is who you know, not what you know. When it comes to growing a successful business this adage is definitely true. To quickly grow your small business, you need to have strong, relevant connections within your network who you can upon whenever you need them.
One of the most important things that online business networking can do is open doors to speak with highly influential individuals who you would not otherwise easily find or be able to talk to.
It isn’t only about who you network with. These people will have their own networks that you can tap into also. So ask questions to find out if the individual you are networking with happens to know other people you want to know!