Why Networking is Worth Your Time & Energy
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
The most important part of being a business owner, but also the most time-consuming, is simply showing up! That means showing up to your community events, networking events, and face-to-face meetings with your clients.
"It's not what you know, but whom you know." This is especially true for business owners. However, many of you lack a networking strategy. Networking is the process of connecting with people, sharing information, and most importantly, building relationships. It is proven to be a powerful, cost-effective way to get the attention of those whose business you need or establish those business partnerships.
So let's talk strategy. I am going to go over four effective strategies to maximize your networking time so you get the most out of the limited time you have and to help sharpen your networking skills to maximize the connections you make.
Determine Who to Connect With
Technology is making it easier than ever to make connections. LinkedIn has been rated the leading online business networking website, making it easier to locate people you are already connected to and see who might be able to introduce you to new connections. However, this still leaves you to determine who you should connect with.
You are going to want to focus on the following strategies when it comes to determining who to connect with:
Regional Connections: Identify the events that are important in your region and gather the contact information to reach out and introduce yourself.
Business Owners Who Connect Locally: Building relationships with these owners is very important. Most of the time they will use local freelancers and other businesses and request local support, so if you reach out and make the effort to get the job and do good on the first project, then they are more likely to continue to use you on future projects. This is a win-win opportunity for everyone. Stick local and not only are you showing your support for your community, but you will establish better relationships.
Don't Forget to Nurture Your Current Network
While establishing new connections, don't forget about the ones that you already have. Relationships of all types, especially business relationships, take nurturing. They are not going to stick around otherwise.
Remember, you already have a rich personal and professional network. These connections include your friends, family, neighbors, connections through your community and memberships you may be a part of, and business partners or past professionals you worked with as well as non-professionals such as accountants, lawyers, or even insurance representatives.
Here are some tips to help you nurture your relationships:
Expand Your Network
There are many ways to expand your network, but the most valuable methods are to attend industry events, participate in professional groups, and join owner associations.
This is the most important and yet the most forgotten. If you hand someone a business card, ask for one in return. Follow up with an email within 24 hours, thanking them for their time. Also, when you are out at the next event and see them, be sure to say hello and see how they are doing.
The key factors to a follow-up are:
Listen for Clues
Networking is a sales strategy that any business owner, no matter the type of business should never overlook. If done well, it cannot only help generate leads but deepen the connections you already have to create returning and loyal customers, business partners, or simply just people that are your main referrals. Not to mention, when you're out networking and being involved, you are learning useful information about your markets that can make your company even more successful.