Over the last decade in business, there’s one aspect of entrepreneurship that’s remained consistent: the importance of networking.
Networking plays an important role in your business growth, and although it shouldn’t be the only strategy you utilize, it should be a core part of your business operations and marketing. Although networking is great for connecting with potential clients, it’s also a great way to connect with others in your industry to partner with for collaborations and build referral partnerships.
Here’s how your business can be positively impacted by networking and how to start networking as a new, or seasoned, entrepreneur:
Networking is the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional relationships. Networking is not simply looking for and connecting with potential clients, it’s a way to connect with others in your industry and become a part of a referral network.
A referral network is when you have a network of others in your industry, typically serving your audience in different ways, who refer each other when someone is in search of or in need of a particular service.
The importance of networking in entrepreneurship is the potential to be continuously referred to clients even when you’re not in the room.
Most networks are established through in-person and virtual events, some specifically tailored towards networking and others simply connecting those in the industry. Ideally, you want to show up in these spaces and leave an impression on those you want to connect with outside of the event or space.
Before you do anything else, you need to think about who you need to connect with and what they (potentially) do in the space. You’ll also need to think about how you want to show up in the space and ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? Is there a specific way you serve your clients? Do you stand behind something with significance?
These are important because you want to connect with the right people. While some in your network may be a passing interaction, others will be long-lasting relationships and you want them to feel natural in conversation and connection.
Next, you’re going to show up in some spaces introduce yourself, and interact with at least one person. And you’ll go to another and interact with at least one person. That’s how you’ll start.
Once you become more comfortable with building connections and introducing yourself, you can start branching out and making more connections at each event.
The events themselves do not need to be fancy, they could be a co-working session in a Facebook group or a meet-up for your local small businesses. The quality is what makes an impact on the connections you make, not the quantity or expense.
A strong network can lead to referrals for years to come – it’s also a great way to improve your brand visibility and become a trusted source in your industry. When multiple people trust you and your business, it shows when others begin to invest in services or products related to you.
Outside of referrals, collaborations and partnerships within your network can open amazing doors of opportunity. You may be able to find a partner to help with a project that would not otherwise be feasible, or get together and offer a larger-scale service, or even create an event within your industry of your own.
The positive impact on your business is ultimately limitless, which is why I put so much emphasis on the importance of networking in entrepreneurship – and will continue to do so in the future.