Let’s face it, anyone in business knows the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is true. No matter how experienced and educated you are, you will do better off when you are in situations where you have a foot in the door. One of the best ways for you to create contacts and expand your set of connections is to network. Networking is not a new concept but it is one that can be intimidating.
In order to understand the importance of networking, one needs to understand their goals and objectives and create tactics to accomplish them. Let’s begin by identifying several basic reasons for networking:
Build Relationships. No matter what type of business you have, you will always have competitors. With the global economy, you aren’t simply competing with businesses in your area, but all over the United States and frankly, the world. With the flexibility and ease of conducting business online, business owners are faced with numerous competitors. Building relationships create business. When a consumer is making the decision of whom to do business with, they will feel more comfortable doing business with someone they trust, and therefore relationships matter.
Create new avenues for your business. Business models can expire. Has yours been altered to match today’s ever changing economy and technology? Networking allows you to create new avenues for your business that your original model might not have considered or allowed for. Utilizing social media to introduce your business and products can expand your client base. If you aren’t utilizing free services like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or others, you are a step behind your competition.
Stand out. When you’re networking, it allows you to stand out. Potential clients can begin to put a name with a face. A successful networker will always be in front of their competition because they have made an impact; networking provides an opportunity for the impact.
Attract and retain customers. Networking is a means for a business to tell their story. For example it might be widely known that a salon styles hair and waxes, but it might not be as known that the same salon also does facials and massages. If you are not telling your story and explaining what you do, your business could remain stagnant. Networking provides a forum for introducing new services and products, which in turn captures new customers and educates existing ones.
Knowing why networking is crucial is important, but understanding how to network is vital to your time and success. Below are three tips for success to be introduced in your method of networking:
Be strategic. In today’s fast paced climate, one can become overwhelmed with the amount of opportunities to network. Be strategic in planning where and how you spend your time. Select the functions and programs based on the most impact and effectiveness. You do not have to be everywhere all the time, but you do have to make choices to maximize the time you have.
Be prepared. Networking is similar to making a first impression. Create a succinct, relevant message that is impactful. It’s your time to shine, make it count.
Be unique. In order to leave a good impression, one cannot simply jump from one group to the next with the same message and expect to be impactful. Networking, as discussed earlier, is about creating relationships. If you aren’t tailoring your message you will come across stale and rehearsed. Do your homework and know your audience. Tailor your message to your specific audience.
One can become overwhelmed with the numerous opportunities before them. Choosing what to participate in and where to spend time is critical. Being strategic in networking methods will result in growth and sustainability for your business.