How To Grow Your Business Through Networking
You have probably come across the adage, “ It is not what you know, it is who you know”.
I prefer to have it this way, “it is not who you know, but who the person you know knows.”
A pretty ugly statement I guess, but the truth is beautiful once you get the hold of it.
The role of building and sustaining relationships cannot be emphasized in today’s business world.
Business Networking is the process of meeting, liaising and mixing with people that can support your business and its objectives.
The power of networking is like the atomic bomb. And it can be applied to your business. Yes, you can reach more customers and grow your business through networking!
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Why is networking important for your business?
A while ago, I had a mind-blowing but a little horrific experience. I was seeking the attention of a medical director for a job placement.
Following two different visits after which I was told there was no opening, one of the admin staff asked to see me in camera and popped the million dollar question, ”who referred you here?”
5 weeks later I returned to the office with a letter from a top business mogul who I never met but got a letter nonetheless through his staff who happens to attend my church. The rest is history.
Networking opens the door of highly influential people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily talk to or find.
2) More customers
Networking generates high-quality referrals. It is the reason most businesses participate in networking.
It helps to generate word of mouth marketing.
When you build meaningful relationships, business or personal, it becomes easy to request for referrals which is another means of increasing business patronage.
3) Access to information and new opportunities
Networking creates an avenue to gain from the wealth of experience of like-minded business owners and experts in your field.
This is positive influence which can uplift your business. Moreover, business owners and experts within your niche can have access to some information regarding new opportunities in your field.
Opportunities like crowd funding, joint ventures, conferences, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing opportunities, business exhibitions, business or asset sales, competitions, … the list goes on, and the opportunities within networking are really endless.
4) It is cheap
Networking provides an extremely cost-effective way of promoting yourself and your business with good return on investment.
The use of advertising campaigns and other traditional promotional mechanisms can be a less efficient use of scarce resources for a start-up.
However, through face to face networking and (increasingly) online networking, even the small early-stage business can build a massive profile that drives growth.
How to Build a Network For Business Growth
The primary goal of networking is to meet lots of people who can have a positive influence on your business. The secret is, therefore, easy: Be available.
Wherever there is a gathering which can benefit your business, you must be well represented. Your presence can be felt either physically or otherwise.
Let’s have a look at how you can get these done:
1) Face to face (pitch your business)
Go outside to spread the word. Tell new people about your business and the services you render.
Show them samples of projects you have completed successfully or simply tell them how satisfied your customers have been.
2) Ask for referrals
Ask for introductions. Try asking a family member, friend, or business associate to recommend you. They haven’t because you didn’t ask.
Give them copies of your client testimonials and success stories and let them spread the word with you.
3) Build a good reputation
You need a track record of excellence and customer satisfaction to succeed in business. Take the time to learn what your customers want and make sure you deliver on your promises.
Focus on customer service and make sure your staff follows through.
4) Attend networking events
A lot of business networking events are geared specifically at new start-ups and the small business owner.
In other words, they are engineered at trying to help business owners to network effectively, to build their contact base and to collaborate on local or mutual initiatives or business opportunities.
Capitalise on similar events around your niche and be a part.
5) Get Online
You can reach the globe through the internet. Online platforms like Manta, Facebook & Linkedin are great platforms to establish an online presence and building a network for your business.
You can equal drive brand awareness via facebook ads using companies like Voymedia to manage your campaigns and help to reach your target influencers.
6) Use your business card
Is this still relevant? More than you can imagine. Ensure you have plenty of business cards – it never ceases to amaze me how many business owners leave their homes without their business cards!
And avoid the cheap tacky variety of business card – invest in good quality cards, the cheap versions will convey a negative impression of you.
Finally, follow up on your network. Don’t sit back and expect them to follow through. Do something for them.
Be helpful in a way they will remember to follow through on your request. And as soon as networking begins to work for you, don’t forget to share your experience with the rest of the business community.