Networking is a critical aspect of entrepreneurship. Through networks, entrepreneurs not only get inspiration and support to start and develop their companies, but also meet their first customers. The best networks increase your bottom line.
Networking comes naturally to some, while it is a challenge for others. There are many emotional barriers to networking. Many individuals fear they will be perceived as pushy. Others feel insecure or doubt that others will be interested in their company, services, or products. To overcome these barriers, it is easier to focus on the other person rather than yourself.
With networking, both quality and quantity matters. Quality relationships promote trust, which in turn leads to referrals. The larger your network, the more customers you are likely to have. Even though networking may be stressful or feel like unproductive time, there are many indirect benefits.
Benefits of networking
- Networks pave an easier path to sales: Selling through your network is the cheapest, easiest, and most genuine way of selling. Selling to repeat customers or referred customers is way easier that trying to attract and convert a first-time customer. If you are known for something good, you will be perceived as credible and trustworthy.
Networking is a critical aspect of entrepreneurship: Through networks, entrepreneurs not only get inspiration and support to start and develop their companies, but also meet their first customers. The best networks increase your bottom line.
Networks foster positive word of mouth: Through positive word of mouth, someone who you have never meet may inquire about your products or services based on a friend’s referral. Instead of contacting customers, customers call you based on a referral. Being known as something good can be more powerful marketing and advertising.
Seven Tips for Networking
- Focus less on yourself and more on the other person’s needs. Remember “what goes around comes around.” By focusing on others and helping others reach their goals, you build a relationship and encourage reciprocation.
- Get out of the office and consider the different networking opportunities– conferences, events, trade organizations, networking groups, online networks, and existing clients. Make a list of relevant networking opportunities and prioritize accordingly.
- Leverage extended networks by engaging with existing customers who can refer new customers.
- Instead of asking demanding questions like “What do you do?,” ask simple questions like “What are you working on at the moment?” Simple, yet relevant questions are interesting and easy to answer.
- Remember what others are working on and offer support. When you hear of a specific need and know a content, provide an introduction.
- Add notes to the back of the business card. Business cards can quickly stack up and blur together. A few notes on the back will provide a refresher on who the contact is and how you can help.
- Express your needs and ask for references, so others know how they can reciprocate and help you.
Networking is one step towards building a relationship. First, you must be remembered, then you must build trust. After an initial contact, it is always a good idea to follow up with call, email, or meeting to initiate the relationship and not be forgotten. Being genuine and building long term relationships are two crucial aspects of networking.
If would like guidance on selling through your network, contact us to coordinate your GrowthWheel one-on-one consultation.