The purpose of business networking is to increase the profit in your business in one way or another. Being able to connect with people and to build those all-important strong business relationships is at the core of networking.
Depending on how long you have been in business and your level of confidence, networking can bring different benefits, but all the benefits listed below will apply at any stage in business:
• New connections, contacts and referrals – The most beneficial, and most obvious benefit to networking is meeting potential clients and then being able to generate referral business, new business partnerships and possibly joint ventures. This should help you to significantly expand your client base and your business. Meeting with potential clients or those who can put you in contact with potential clients on a regular basis is crucial to your business success
• Support from trusted sources- support is so important at any stage of business and especially when first starting out or when you are trying to expand your business or offering. Having the support of trusted business colleagues is not only reassuring but helpful when having to make important business decisions or going through tough times in business.
If you or one of your clients, colleagues or friends are needing the services of other business people, then this is where your ‘network’ can help. You may already have a bookkeeper, accountant, or lawyer in your group, and these may be the people you are looking for. Because they are part of your networking group, you may have developed a sound business relationship with them and know you can trust them. Being able to use them yourself and to confidently refer them is reassuring to say the least.
Being a part of a networking group gives members the support needed in these circumstances.
• Problem solving – Being able to share problems and find solutions is one of the ways business people can gain support through networking. This not only helps with the growth of the business but can give vital moral support and help maintain or increase the confidence of the business owner. Having the feeling of being alone in business and not being able to talk with others about challenges can be very overwhelming for some. Taking advantage of the experiences of others before you invest time and money in a new product, service or venture can be invaluable.
• Increase or maintain visibility -Regularly attending networking events and meetings helps to raise your personal and business profiles. Meeting those you already know, and potential clients regularly helps keep you and your business front and centre in the minds of the right people. However, it is important to always behave in a professional and appropriate manner at networking events to portray your profile in a positive light and gain the best reputation.
• Gaining knowledge- Networking is the ideal place for expanding your knowledge base and keeping up to date with the current trends and market conditions in your industry. Constantly learning and staying current allows you to continually update your business and marketing plans to stay on top of your specific industry. Attending networking meetings where members and guest speakers regularly share up to date information and then everyone being able to share their own view points and prior experience will help you stay current.
• Increasing ones Confidence – Associating with others who are friendly, supportive, and maybe more experienced with networking than we are can help us to gain confidence in this area. Regular networking can also increase our confidence when speaking in front of others and presenting our business products and services to others. Having to share about our business with others regularly helps us practise this and to fine tune it to be able to share clearly. Supportive and constructive feedback is vital for us to get it right and gain more confidence.