Networking is like being your own personal billboard. It’s great for building business contacts, finding new clients, making connections in your industry, and promoting your business.
Networking isn’t just about turning up to events; it’s about creating relationships and connections with other people. You never know who you might meet at an event that can help you or your business in some way.
Here are some ways that networking can benefit your business.
It’s a great marketing tool
Networking is a great marketing tool for businesses with a tight budget. Networking events give you direct access to a room full of influential people in your industry. Simply by talking to these people, you are essentially advertising to potential customers.
By having a conversation with other people at the event, you can determine if they have a need for your business or services. The more people who are aware of your business means the greater number of people who will contact you when the need arises.
The cost of the event may be expensive, but it is usually cheaper than hiring an advertising agency to promote your business.
Gaining new contacts
At networking events, you might meet many like-minded people in various stages of their careers. By talking to these people you can gain practical advice or inspiration to achieve your own goals.
Start creating connections with people at these events by asking for their business cards and contacting them after the event.
Networking can be time-consuming but can also be extremely worthwhile when you make new connections or even begin a new friendship.
Some networking events may feel like a waste of time, but you can learn something from every experience. For example, you might learn a new tip or discover the type of networking events that are best for your business.
You can also learn new trends in the business community or even share your own knowledge with others.
Here are some tips to help you network at events:
Network with potential clients: You should attend networking events that your potential clients or customers would attend. For example, if your target market is small businesses, then participate in networking events for small business owners. Sometimes your local chamber of commerce will run these events.
Network with people in your industry: You can join industry-specific networking groups, which are often run by the professional association you may belong to.
Go alone: To make the most of each networking event, you should attend the event alone. That way, you will be encouraged to talk to new people instead of the friends or colleagues that came with you. If you do bring a friend, split up and try to talk to different people. At the end of the event, you can catch up with your friend and learn about the people they met.
Make the first move: Don’t wait for someone to approach you at a networking event. Make the first move and introduce yourself to someone. Start by approaching a group of three or more people having a discussion. Often it’s easier to join a discussion with a larger group of people than approaching a discussion between two people.
Listen: Networking is about listening. Take the time to listen to other people and ask them about their business. That way you can determine if they have a need for your business or services.
Networking is one of the most important marketing tools for yourself and your business. You can never have too many contacts, so start attending events and making connections in your industry.
Catriona Pollard is the director of specialist PR and social media strategy firm CP Communications.