I never appreciated the benefits of networking until I opened my business. I learned pretty quickly that meeting new people and building trusted relationships is the key to being successful in business.
Since then, I have lived and breathed networking and I have been a strong supporter of its value ever since!
Why networking you ask? Here are some of the key reasons I network:
1. To get the ‘word of mouth’ out there: Word of mouth can make (or break) your business. The more people that know you and understand what you do the better! People trust people they know so by networking and getting to know people, you will foster more introductions, recommendations and referrals.
2. To meet mentors: Networking has connected me to people with a lot more business experience than me. What I have discovered is that successful people are quite willing to share what they know with somebody who is willing to listen and learn.
3. To be inspired: Most entrepreneurs I have met have an unyielding energy and drive that is inspirational. Meeting other people who have had to rely on their own thinking, resources and creativity to survive can sometimes be just what I need to keep myself motivated. Meeting people who have endured the same struggles is not only great encouragement but it is also reassuring to know that I’m not alone.
4. Better communication: Getting out there, introducing yourself to people and talking to others are the best ways to improve how you are getting your message out. At first it can be stressful as most new entrepreneurs find themselves way out of their comfort zone. When you practice introducing yourself and your business to strangers, you will very soon send the message that you are THE person to connect with about your area of expertise. I’m not going to lie – it can be challenging at first, but like anything, practice makes perfect. I have seen many people (myself included) transform from a shy newbie to a confident communicator through increased networking experiences.
5. Making friends: The focus doesn’t always have to be on business when you’re networking. There’s nothing like connecting with like-minded people who share your enthusiasm for ideas and make your community a better place to live. Some of my strongest friendships have come into my life through networking – which have in turn led to an even stronger business alliance. This is powerful to have within your network.
Relationships are the catalyst for true success and networking is a genuine and lasting way to build them. I say the most successful networking happens when you continually work at connecting with new people. And don’t forget to nurture those relationships, leverage your network and get your new friends talking about you!