Building your business locally can be daunting, especially when you are just starting out and the competition is sizing you up. With the right network, however, you could amplify your outreach and broaden your horizons. That said, many South Jersey small business owners do not understand business networking, nor do they find it effective when they try.
That’s why we’re going to explain the ins and outs of business networking today. We’ll also provide you with some tips to make business networking easier than ever.
What is Business Networking?
Business networking is like any other kind of networking, where you work to establish a reciprocal relationship with other businesses or potential clients and partners. Most of the time, these people or groups you network with can assist you in expanding your business while you offer them something in return.
This mutually beneficial partnership opens up multiple opportunities for you, such as access to professional experience, knowledge, and contacts.
Why is Networking Important? What Are The Benefits?
Business networking has one significant advantage: you can seek out possibilities that you could never find by yourself. Networking widens the scope, so you can gain valuable insight from different industries that you may not have had access to prior. A single contact may introduce you to meetings, opportunities, events, or other possible partnerships.
You also meet contacts who can increase your knowledge of an industry or trend. You can meet mentors, who will school you in successful business practices. Or, you could meet someone who helps you troubleshoot technical issues.
Some examples of this include finding a lawyer or accountant through your network when you need one. Your networking channels could even guide you towards venture capitalists and angel investors.
When you want important feedback or critiques on your products or services, you can turn to your business network, as well. And that advice you receive will be invaluable.
How Does Business Networking Work?
The best way to network locally is still done face-to-face—at meetings or local events. Attending a business luncheon or joining a video conference aligns you with other business owners and entrepreneurs with similar values and circumstances. Generally, such events are used to discuss methods and concepts that could drive more traffic towards businesses. In that same meeting, you get a chance to shake hands with others and exchange information.
When you become acquainted with other business owners, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Give them a business card or your business info and make plans to discuss points of interest that could benefit you both. After associating with other business-minded people, you will find yourself surrounded by those who wish to assist you in some way.
The best way to receive advice or assistance, however, is to go to these events or meetings prepared and ready to offer up something of value, too.
Different Kinds of Business Networking
There is more than just one way to network. Many people tend to think that networking is limited to online communique over Twitter, but there are so many more opportunities than that. You can choose the medium that works best for you and your business.
Here are some types of business networking you can explore:
Organizations like the American Marketing Association, American Management Association, or smaller groups, like the South Jersey Business Association, exist to help like-minded business people like yourself make connections with others in different fields and industries. Some organizations will have membership fees or requirements that you must meet, while others are less exclusive. Either way, professional associations are crucial to businesses looking to expand and form partnerships.
Two of the best examples of a networking group are LinkedIn and Meetup. These online communities work as a hub of information, where people from all around the world can come together to talk about business ideas, concepts, and exchange information.
Business Seminars and Professional Development
When you attend a seminar or go to a professional development class (in-person or online), you get a chance to make connections with people who have similar interests. Plus, you gain valuable knowledge on the topic of discussion from the seminar.
Tips For Effective Business Networking
Now, here are some tips that will make your networking more successful:
- Find the right venue. Look for special interest groups, local organizations, and Chambers of Commerce events or groups.
- Remember it’s about relationships, not selling a product. You are not seeking out new clients. Approach networking without expectations. Instead, aim to meet new people and forming acquaintances.
- Be giving. Rather than thinking about what others can do for you, think about how you can help them.
- Be authentic and polite. Since you are representing your business and your brand, be sure to show off the best qualities and give everyone in the room as good of an impression as possible. Don’t take up too much of one person’s time. Exchange information with individuals you click with then move on.
- Follow up. After making a connection, take some time after the event to reach out. Tell the individual how much enjoyed speaking with them. If you promised to send information to someone, be sure to do that.
Business networking is a process, one that you must keep working towards. But it’s worth it in the end. By developing partnerships, you gain special opportunities. Other business owners are looking out for assistance and a chance to be helpful, as well. So get out there and communicate with other business people near you.
Ready to try business networking? Then why not come to the next SJBA meeting and acquaint yourself with other local business owners? Check out the meeting schedule or send us a message for more information.