The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for a job.” – Robert Kiyosake
If you don’t like personal networking, then you are missing a huge opportunity to generate new leads and grow your business.
I know why. You don’t know how to meet and greet people you don’t know. It’s often a lack of self-confidence, feeling like you don’t know what to say or how to start up a conversation. However networking is a great way to build your circle of influence particularly if you have a compelling and dynamic elevator pitch prepared.
A circle of influence is not about who you know, it’s about who wants to know you! Let’s face it, if a friend or trusted colleague recommends a person or a business as being trustworthy and delivers a great service, aren’t you more likely to take their advice rather than risk doing business with someone or a business you don’t know?
Here’s 7 reasons why you should start networking.
1. Networking is affordable
No business has money to waste especially not on advertising that’s not working. AND it can be expensive. So what is the alternative? Yes, social media like twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be an alternative. Social media done properly takes a lot of time and effort especially if you are looking for organic growth.
Networking on the other hand can generate leads instantly providing you understand how to work the room at a networking event.
Yes in some cases you do have to pay to attend a networking event but in many cases they are free. The cost of entry is your time. The value you receive, unlimited.
2. Networking builds your self-confidence
If you were to take up golf for the very first time, chances are you wouldn’t be very good at it. You might get a coach and take some lessons and no doubt your golf game would improve. With both coaching AND regular practice, chances are your game will get a whole lot better.
Networking is no different. The more you put yourself out there, the more confident you will become. The more people you connect with, the more potential you have to be introduced to others provided you have a networking strategy.
If networking is not something you feel you are comfortable with, yet, then start with a simple goal, like meet five new people and collect five business cards.
The goal is NEVER to try sell your products and services at a networking event to a person you have just met for the first time. This is a push push push approach which pushes people away from you. Your goal is to make connections and start a conversation. That conversation then can lead to an opportunity to meet again after the event. Once you are face to face with a prospective customer, you can then enter into the buying and selling process.
3. Networking gives you an opportunity to be mentored
When you attend networking events regularly, you will always meet people who have been where you’ve been and experienced the same issues as you. Indirectly, they become your mentor as you can learn how they overcame the challenges they faced.
You will be able to seek advice from other experts you get to meet. For instance, if you have a particular problem, you might ask one of your connections who the best person is to talk to about…. whatever challenge you are facing.
Indirectly you build up your own group of masterminds. These are people who both seek out your advice and people you can ask for advice, support and information.
4. Networking builds your industry knowledge & credibility
Networking is also a great way to tap into the advice and expertise of others that you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. If you choose the events you attend carefully, you will mix with like minded business people and industry experts. Attending these events gives you the opportunity to talk to them about a range of topics that you are interested in.
As you build your network, you become more aware of business issues and industry trends. You learn more about the marketplace and what people are looking for. It allows you to adapt the products and services you offer to your target market.
The more you network, the more knowledgeable you become, the more you become an expert and a go to person. As you learn more and become more of an expert, the more opportunities you have to share that knowledge. For instance, you could offer to be a guest speaker at a networking event.
As you become accustomed to speaking or hosting a networking event, you then are seen as an expert.
5. Networking raises your personal profile
People prefer to build a business relationship with others they consider helpful and valuable. This can’t happen if they don’t know about you, what you have to offer and how you can add value to them and their business. Word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways of generating leads and growing your business.
Being visible at networking events instantly raises your profile and is a major benefit of regularly attending networking events and engaging with others. It helps to get your face and name known and if you add value by providing useful tips, help and refer others, you build the reputation as being a person others want to get to know. Share your ideas, expertise and information and above all, connect others. By connecting people who you know will benefit from meeting each other, dramatically improves your own profile and the strength of your network.
6. Networking leads to business opportunities
Networking leads to business opportunities providing you build trust and rapport first. Networking is about making connections and receiving business cards not trying to give yours out. The reason for this is people don’t warm to others where all they do is push their products and services. You have to become interested in them first and find out about their needs. You do this by asking questions and listening to the responses.
If you focus on making the connection and getting their business card, it puts the power back in your hands. With their details, you have an opportunity to contact them, set up an appointment, arrange to meet over a coffee, send them something of value like a link, e-Book or article of interest. If they have your business card, you don’t know if it goes straight into the bin and you have lost control.
7. Networking leads to referral business
As you gain more confidence and build your reputation as being someone who is valuable, your connections will be more motivated to refer you to others. Others will want to get to know you and introduce you to their network immediately expanding your own personal network.
As you become more accomplished at networking, you start to build up a list of connections. When you connect with others, it gives you the opportunity to tap into their extended network as well. The thing is, you must be able to offer someone of value to your connections.
The best way to add value is to connect your connections with others. For instance, if you meet someone who is looking for a web-designer, accountant, lawyer or coach and it’s not your field of expertise, then refer them to someone in your connections who has that expertise. Guaranteed, one day they will return the favor, it’s called the law of reciprocity. People value the recommendations of friends and colleagues.
On a final note
When you use the power networking to make quality connections, you will grow your business exponentially
In a Nutshell
- Networking is more affordable than advertising
- Networking builds your self-confidence
- Networking allows you to be mentored directly and indirectly
- Networking builds your industry knowledge and credibility
- Networking raises your personal and professional profile
- Networking leads to business opportunities
- Networking leads to referral business