‘It’s all about who you know’ is an expression we’ve all heard. However, is it really true for small business networking?
Networking plays an important role in the growth and success of small businesses and startups. With social media and networking events, it is now even easier to connect with other professionals and benefit from creating a strategic network.
Your professional network will, of course, include those you see during your day to day work. However, in order for your business to reach its full potential, it is important to branch out and strategically broaden your community. Making connections with professionals and industry leaders outside of your immediate circle helps your business development in the future.
Here are the details for building a strategic network for your business.
What Is A Strategic Network?
A strategic network is important for the future development of your business. Think about your goals and where you want to be in 5 years time or even further in the future. Who can help you get there?
Strategic networks involve people who are not necessarily involved in your day to day work. They will likely work in similar or complementary businesses or be leaders in related industries. Though you may not be in regular contact with those in this network, it is important to get in touch occasionally to maintain the relationship.
Building a good relationship is beneficial for both parties. Contacts in your strategic network can help you develop and grow your business by providing insight and advice. You can also share knowledge and opportunities, which you may not have had access to otherwise.
“It’s important to be surrounded by like-minded individuals to truly grow your business and achieve your goals,” says Startup Nation. “If you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, you’ll get stuck in an echo chamber. Being around other, more experienced entrepreneurs will inspire you to achieve your dreams, instead of that empty “hustle” that many entrepreneurs constantly find themselves striving for.”
How Do You Build Strategic Small Business Networking?
You understand the benefits and want to get started. So, how do you build this network? Strong networks are based on mutual interest and trust. Here are some strategies to bear in mind when networking. These will help you create genuine connections and build positive mutually beneficial relationships.
Get Started Online
The good news is that you have a lot of options to get started. Social media makes it easier than ever to network digitally. Connecting with Twitter followers can lead to interviews for case studies and testimonials, while LinkedIn contacts are a great way to keep track of what’s going on in your industry.
Understand Your Goals
Setting a goal is a crucial part of networking and helps you avoid feeling directionless. Maybe you’re looking to recruit new team members, or you’re hoping to find or even become a business mentor. This will also help you figure out where your networking efforts will pay off the best! If you’re networking in the wrong place, you won’t achieve your goals.
Build Authentic Connections
Essentially, networking is all about meeting new people and nurturing relationships. In order for a relationship to form and grow, there first needs to be a real connection. Be genuine and take an interest in the other person. It may be a shared professional skill, experience or even a personal interest. Finding a genuine connection will increase the likelihood of you staying in touch. This will help the relationship last longer.
It is also important to branch out into unknown groups as an opportunity to build new connections and offer your business services to a new audience. You may find this provides exciting new opportunities for growth, support, and new clients.
Start with ‘How can I help?’
We all know networking is important to help our businesses and careers. However, it is not just about personal success. Effective networks are based on mutually beneficial relationships. So, when making connections, the first thing you should consider is how you can help the other person.
Offering to help solve a problem they have is a great icebreaker. People gravitate towards others that are open, friendly and offer to help. It’s the perfect way to show your value to someone you want to connect with. By helping them, you can establish a positive connection that can then help you in the future.
Move Forward With A Strategic Network
It turns out, both who and what you know will help you succeed in business. Building a strategic network is a powerful move for the future of your business and your long-term success. Look to solve problems, set purposeful goals, and explore all your options, then watch your network thrive.