The path to success for a newly established business relies on not just what you know, but also, who you know. We are of course talking about networking. While networking takes plenty of time and effort, it plays a huge role in the growth and long-term success of a company. No matter what industry you are a part of, the ability to form and maintain relationships provides a variety of advantages. Even though networking is second nature for some people, for others, it’s a learning process. With that said, we’re delvinging into some of the best ways to network and set yourself up for success. Understanding what a developed network of peers can do for you helps set you apart from the competition, and operate confidently on a daily basis.
The Importance of Networking
Before diving into the best tips for networking, it’s important to grasp the benefits of a close-knit group of professionals. Here are some of the things that networking can do for you:
Opens Up New Opportunities
Networking is all about establishing and properly nurturing relationships. For new business owners particularly, having a strong network of connections opens up various business opportunities. These include partnerships, collaborations, client referrals, and valuable business advice. Further down the road, networking can also help you when it comes to investments or key industry insights to help foster business growth. Simply put, if you aren’t networking, you don’t know what you could be missing out on. In other words, the wider you cast your net, the higher chance you have of opening lucrative opportunities.
Creates Chances to Learn
Experience is the best way to learn, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be your experience. Networking with peers lets you tap into the knowledge that other individuals hold. Put it this way, there are plenty of people out there who have more experience than you. Don’t you want to take advantage of their insights? While it’s sometimes necessary to learn from your own failures, it’s even better to learn from other people’s failures. That’s because you don’t lose anything, but you gain valuable information. The great thing about networking is that it’s a two way road, meaning someone might teach you something today, but later down the line, you’ll pay it forward by teaching them something. It’s like a revolving door.
Increases Brand Awareness and Visibility
Networking, especially at large events, is an awesome way to get your business name out there. These opportunities present the chance to showcase your company’s skills and what makes you stand out. By actively engaging with other individuals, and leaving a lasting impression, your brand will shine, and you’ll start to become recognized by other industry members.
The Top Ways to Build Your Network
Now that you understand the basics behind networking, let’s explore some useful tips. Implementing these into your schedule, maximizes your chances of growth and helps to spread your company’s message.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
In the modern era business owners have an advantage that people didn’t have in the past…social media. Social media fosters connections and makes it easy to find your industry-specific niche. With a number of platforms out there you may not know which one to use for networking. Well, it all depends on the line of work you’re in. With that said, most individuals use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for networking purposes. In recent years Instagram and TikTok have gained popularity (especially with e-commerce companies), so feel free to explore those as well! While each platform has its own distinct features, our general tips are to:
- Create a compelling profile.
- Join industry relevant groups.
- Follow other industry members and leaders.
- Post insightful or interesting content.
- Interact with other users and their content.
Go to Relevant Industry Events
Industry events like trade shows, conferences, and seminars are a great way to network. These types of events have been around for ages, and there’s a reason they haven’t gone away. It’s because they work! Events specific to your industry offer chances to meet new people, gain advice from successful business owners, bring in new clients, and gain brand recognition. When attending these events it’s important to prepare ahead of time. To do this, research who will be attending to gain some background. Going the extra mile by writing down key talking points is also helpful. In order to leave a lasting impression, hand out business cards, and collect cards from others. Another idea is to hand out company merchandise like pens, cups or hats. All of these tactics help others associate you with your brand. It’s also important to follow up with individuals that you met after the event. This lets people know that you’re serious about picking their brain and growing a relationship into the future.
Join Professional Organizations
Depending on the industry you’re a part of, there may be professional associations or other similar clubs. These settings are highly valuable as they oftentimes offer breaking industry news, or open eyes to more niche events. For example, if you run a sportswear company, you could join the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). Believe it or not, there are these types of organizations for so many industries. With that said, do some of your own research and find one that’s relevant to your company. If you end up finding one, it’s very important that you actually actively participate in addition to simply joining. A great way to do this is by volunteering to work or host events.
Explore Your Industries Chamber of Commerce
On a similar note, if your industry has a chamber of commerce, this resource is great for finding entrepreneurs and even potential customers in your area. A chamber of commerce is all about businesses helping other businesses. With that said, finding yourself an active role will only benefit you and your organization.
Use Online Forums and Communities
When we think about an online presence, most of our minds automatically go to social media. While social media is a great way to make connections (as outlined), it’s not the only way. There are a number of different online groups, niche communities and message boards that help bring like minded individuals together. One of the more popular platforms like this is Reddit. The great thing about Reddit is that it has a community for just about every industry. These platforms help foster collaboration and spark new ideas, so don’t miss out!
Don’t Limit Yourself to Your Industry
While industry connections are great, there’s a lot you can gain from businesses and people in other professions. Start by exploring your local community. Touch base with business owners in your area, and explain that you are starting up a company. In turn, start thinking about creative ways to collaborate with other businesses. Some ideas are creating a co-sponsored event, or developing a collaborative marketing campaign. While these multi-industry collaborations may require some creativity, they can bring new eyes to your brand and open up a variety of lucrative opportunities.
Sponsor Your Own Event
You don’t solely have to attend large industry events. You can also create your own! To start small, maybe you invite other industry professionals to an informational seminar. This type of event gives people the chance to bounce ideas off of one another, form relationships, and ask questions. One way to entice people to attend is by getting a guest speaker to talk at the event. This might be an industry expert or some other prominent community member. Hosting events also helps you stand out, as others will see your efforts and take you seriously.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking
- Be Yourself: This may go without saying, but being genuine and authentic is key to building trust. Having an open and honest mindset helps start relationships off on the right foot. Also, most people can tell if you’re faking it, so don’t pretend!
- Listen First, Talk Second: While many entrepreneurs are talkative individuals, try to refrain from being the light of the party. Instead, focus on listening to what others have to say, and in turn, ask relevant questions. A huge piece of networking is gaining insight, so focus on what you can take away from each conversation.
- Provide Your Own Value: As mentioned, networking is a two way street. Try offering help or advice to others whenever possible.
- Don’t Oversell Yourself or Your Products: This tip bleeds into the “Be Yourself” tip, but it’s important to not embellish your products or offerings. Additionally, don’t be pushy. Being overbearing will repel people.
- Don’t Ignore Follow-Up Conversations: You don’t want people ignoring you if you reach out to them. Make sure to keep your commitments, and engage with others in a timely manner if they follow up after meeting.
- Don’t Undervalue Anyone: No matter what your preconceptions might be, everyone holds some sort of value. Keeping this in mind it’s important to never dismiss anyone based on their appearance, title, or any other factors.
A Final Thought
We understand how important it is to create connections with industry peers, but it’s also vital to start things off on the right foot with your employees. While there are many ways to do this, one of the top ideas is to provide them with a comprehensive employer-sponsored health plan. Getting a group health plan for your company may seem stressful, but with the help of GHQ, it doesn’t have to be. Our quick process enables you to access competitive health plans in your area, and get quotted for free. We work with all of the best carriers, so you’re bound to find something that satisfies both you and your staff. We also have expert insurance agents who work around the clock if you need any help. Don’t let your workforce go uninsured for any longer. Just fill out a form or call us today at 888-571-0291.