Business networking is essential regardless of what industry or occupation you might find yourself in. If you are an entrepreneur, it is highly likely that you could derive a great deal of benefit from actively seeking networking opportunities in multiple niches or industries to match the myriad of skills, roles and aspirations you might be engaged with at any one time.
Most professionals don’t approach networking with the right goals in mind or worse they don’t even really consider it at all or until it’s too late and they for one reason or another are truly struggling. Networking should be a full time job in and of itself and something you are directing energy towards on a weekly if not daily basis.
For the entrepreneur, the main benefit of networking is being able to build a rich database of connections which you can call on in moments of need. Your needs are always shifting as an entrepreneur so it makes good sense to build a very diverse array of professionals around you so that you always know who to turn to should you need specific regulatory assistance in this state or guidance around working with a specific supplier in that one.
It is tremendous hubris to just presume you will never need to anyone’s help in business and specifically as an entrepreneur. Don’t let ego get in the way of building professional relationships in your local and global community. Whether you are assisting others or getting assistance, you are learning about what it takes to solve problems and this is one of the most important things an entrepreneur could ever achieve.
Business Networking and You
If you approach networking with the right mentality, you can transform yourself into a magnet that seemingly magically attracts exactly what it needs in any given moment or in response to any scenario. Say you need information, resources or expertise, with a network in place of people who you can call on for support, you won’t be left shooting blanks but will be able to call in all kinds of firepower to help you win the battle and carry the day.
If you are an entrepreneur, you are likely to be confident and outgoing. You know how to talk to people and how to captivate a room without dominating the energy in an oppressive way. You naturally make friends and build relationships, seeing that collaboration is an endless opportunity and that everyone around you has something to teach you.
If you are still working on cultivating these skills, then networking is the perfect way to practice the kinds of situations that you will need to master if you want to be a successful entrepreneur who is able to influence people and make the hard sell.
The 10 Advantages of Business Networking
- 1. When you help people, they are willing to come to your aid in times of opportunity or crisis. Building your network will require you to be discerning and wise but even if you end up getting burned somehow, this is a great lesson in who to work with and how to tell when someone does not have your best interests in mind.
- 2. Make sure that you define people in your industry that you would like to connect with. These could be the so called “thought leaders”, “experts”, or “unicorn ceos”. The people with clout. The people who can make things happen with you. When you finally connect meaningfully with these people, doors open and your life can change.
- 3. As you connect with the people doing things of note in your industry, you move closer to the winner’s circle and your name begins to reach the right people. When people are wondering who you are and who you know, you have the leverage and are in a better position to negotiate your terms.
- 4. As you define yourself as a leader in your community and make connections inside and outside your industry, you begin to connect with the powerful people around your city, state or country. When you are around powerful people, power naturally starts to be easier to call on. You never know when you might need a little assistance from city hall or the state house.
- 5. If you network effectively with coworkers, you will have more support as things change with organizational culture and management structures. You will have allies and people from within who can champion your ideas and help your visions rise to the top.
- 6. As you build a network of super bad ass doers and achievers, you gain tremendous insights which will prove valuable down the line. It all depends on the effort you put in though. A connection on LinkedIn means just about nothing. A meeting in the real or digital world and the start of a real relationship is everything.
- 7. Seek out people who you genuinely look up to and whose expertise can genuinely help you solve problems. When you can receive million dollar consulting advice from friends, you might save tons of money and get better insight than you would otherwise be paying for.
- 8. You will contribute to charitable and community causes. Many business networking events involve fundraising or volunteering. For people who are shy when meeting new people, these are often the most comfortable events to attend. Everyone is attending for the same reason and the event’s sole focus is not business networking. It’s an ancillary benefit of doing good.
- You don’t have to be limited by where you live. The new face of networking is global. Imagine how useful it could be to learn insider knowledge about faraway markets, projects and organizations. Do not limit yourself to only people who live nearby. The world is global. You should be too.
- 10. You will actually get to know people who might understand the way you think better than anyone else. Networking that starts as professional contact can very often lead to romance or freindship.You can connect with people who do not only offer you business advantage but that you also share things in common with,.
The Secret to Successful Business Networking
The secret to networking is not approaching building relationships seeking to receive anything but instead looking to offer the insight and expertise that you have. If you give first, you will be in a much better position to build collaborative partnerships which will hold transformative potential. Be genuinely interested in the people you connect with.
Whether you attend a local professional networking event or start connecting on a service like LinkedIn, be ready to actually listen and get to know someone. Networking is all about building meaningful relationships. You don’t achieve that by thinking just of yourself.
Think about how you can benefit others, what you can do to support them and their needs. As you build your network, you will find that when you need help and support, you have allies on your side and around the office!