Networking is one of the most important thing a business owner can do. You know how people always say it’s not what you know, but who you know? While I think that WHAT you know is incredibly important and that you actually wouldn’t be able to even conduct your business on a daily basis if you didn’t have knowledge in what you’re doing, without quality connections and knowing the right people, you may never have the opportunities you need. Advertising is great, but it can cost a lot of money, and inbound marketing is a necessity, but neither of these get you the same quality of referrals as networking. I’ve created a video explaining why networking is important for your business, but for those of you who don’t have time to watch a few minutes of a video, I’ve put it all right here for you to read as well.
I get it. It takes time to network, and not every networking event gets you clients right away, so some people chalk it up to a waste of time and don’t go. A lot of people hate having to go to these events and get stuck small talking with people who will never become a customer or client. But wait…rewind a bit. Every single person you talk to and explain what you do is a potential referrer. You never know who they know who might need your services or your product, so make sure that whenever you explain your business, you explain it well. The more a person understands your business, the more opportunities they will have to refer it. That’s why networking groups that meet weekly like BNI encourage their members to set up “one-to-one” meetings: because when someone understands what you do, they can EXPLAIN what you do. These weekly meetings are really beneficial for networking because the network you’re building becomes strong, and you can be much more specific with what you’re looking for in terms of good customers for you. It becomes a way for a group to band together and sell for one another as sort of an outside sales team. You no longer just have your network, but the networks of everyone in the group as well.
Another reason that networking is so important is trust. This goes a couple different ways. When you network with someone, you’re not just throwing an ad at them about what you do and hoping they’ll give you a call; they’re getting to know you first and building a relationship with you. Through this, trust grows, and with trust, comes the encouraging thought that when a person refers you, they KNOW you’ll do a good job and that you’re a trustworthy person. I, for one, never give a referral unless I know the company or have worked with the company and am confident that my name is being attached to a quality company. This is important when business owners are giving referrals, because they never want to be put in a position where they feel like they gave a low quality referral to someone just because they heard their company name somewhere once.
The quality of referrals that come from networking is much higher than the average “leads” you may get just from a person seeing your name flash across the screen on social media (unless you’re doing content marketing, in which case you’re building trust with your potential clients every single day). These referrals tend to turn into long-lasting relationships with clients who will be more likely to refer your work and stick with you for a long time because they already know how you operate beforehand and fully understand your business.
Networking isn’t always easy for people who don’t like small-talk. That’s why it’s important to find networking groups or events with people that you like and whose personalities match your own. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a few groups where I feel welcome, we have fun while we network, and things aren’t uptight and stressful. For someone like me who has trouble speaking in front of people, I need a more relaxed environment.
That’s one reason why I’ve created my own Networking Events events: to help you find others in the area with whom you get along. By building these lasting relationships with local business owners, you are getting your name out there and connecting with people to create quality referrals and customers. These events are casual and include education topics, 30-second “elevator” speeches to explain your business to everyone, drinks, food, and charity raffles. This way nobody feels pressured, and everybody has a good time. For more information, contact me directly. Also contact me if you have questions about how you can better network within YOUR community!