Business networking, a great low-cost form of marketing or an excellent way to get away from the stresses of running a business? For some, it can be both and for others, it can offer much more value than either of those two takes.
One thing is for sure business networking is still very popular. Check online now for local networking events and I'm sure you will find pages and pages of results on Google. All these events must exist for a reason, so what is the importance of business networking?
The importance of business networking
We have put together 7 key benefits of business networking. So after you've read them find your next local event and get out to it.
The clear number one. It's not the only reason businesses network but its usually the biggest. Business owners or salespeople go to networking events because they are in a room full of potential clients.
This is an undeniable benefit that many business owners usually join networking groups and participate in networking activities.
The advantage of lead generation from networking is they are usually high-quality leads. If the prospect is referred to you by another connection then they have also been pre-qualified.
At a networking event you get to have conversations with people, and whilst you might not be selling straight away it is helping you understand people's business pains and issues much better.
Attending networking events gets your brand noticed and visible. The more events you participate in the better known your business becomes. We are lucky in Kent because there are lots of great networking events we can attend to grow our visibility.
By regularly attending networking events and being active you can build a reputation of being supportive and reliable. If you're able to offer good value to the other attendees you also grow a reputation for being knowledgeable. Building this reputation (as well as being plain likeable) will help you gain more leads.
If you want to take brand visibility one step further you can host your own events. At InfoTech we have been so impressed with the local network scene it has inspired us to create our own networking event.
The InfoTech Partner Dinner is a monthly event where we invite 2 other business, who then invite two businesses themselves. This helps to get a mix of people to the dinner whilst also keeping it small enough that you have plenty of opportunities to speak to everyone. Not too mention the food is fantastic!
Get helpful advice
Networking events get like-minded people together in the same place. So that problem you're having with your business, well there are likely a whole group of people who have been through the same thing. So ask for their advice.
You'll likely learn new ideas or new approaches at networking events as well. Make sure you attend with an open mind and you'll likely come across a new idea you haven't thought of.
This works both ways as well. You might have found a way to solve a problem that 10 other businesses at the same event are going through. By asking for advice or giving your own advice you can start to build stronger connections.
Grow your connections
The old saying 'it's not what you know but who you know' is pretty apt for networking events. The what you know part is almost a given, you haven't made it this far with your business by not knowing anything. But the who you know can really push your business on.
Networking is great for growing your connections. Note this isn't the same as getting leads. You might talk to someone who isn't the right fit for your product/service but they might know 10 other people that are a perfect fit. But if you don't get out there and meet other businesses you will never find out.
So next time you meet a person and they don't fit your target market don't make your excuses and leave, talk to them, you never know who else they might know (plus it's much more sociable this way).
The business world is ever-changing. Meeting up with other local businesses can keep you up to date with the latest news or trends. Actually getting out and meeting potential clients can help you understand them much better.
Having conversations in person with potential clients is an invaluable form of market research. It will help you really get to know their business, how it works, what is important to them, and where their pain is. Not only will it help you sell your product better, but it might also help you to make your product even better.
At the end of the day, it feels good to help other people. In the busy life of a business owner, you might not get many chances to do that. Just by attending a networking event you are helping the organiser out (we have all had that fear that nobody will show up!)
Take part in conversations at each event you go to and in no time you are bound to be helping people. Running a business gives you lots of things but one of the most valuable things is experience, so don't be afraid to share it with others.
Sometimes we might forget about this last benefit but in our hectic busy business worlds, there is always room to make new friends. The more events you attend the more regular faces you will spot.
Networking makes it easy to meet new people. Yes, that can be great for your business but it can also be great for you personally. Don't forget that networking events are meant to be fun as well.
Business network events can be anything you want it to be. They are great for creating new leads but they can also be excellent for meeting like-minded people going through the same experiences of running as business as you are.
As a business, we have spent a lot of time at local networking events in the last year and we love them. That is why we created our own networking event, the InfoTech Partner Dinner. For more information on this monthly networking event please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us here.
We look forward to seeing you to a networking event in the future.