When you can connect with anyone across the globe at the touch of a button, are traditional forms of business networking still important? There are still plenty of reasons to join or create a business network, whether online or face-to-face. Here are a few key benefits of growing your business social network.
1. Generating leads
The first clear reason to network is to generate leads for your business. When you step into any networking event, you’re facing a whole room filled with potential clients. Because the participants are fellow business owners or business-minded, they’re also high-quality leads.
Of course, you shouldn’t be walking in to start selling your products immediately. The goal is to exchange ideas, spark a conversation, and then follow up later on with interested parties. Be sure to bring along business cards so you can easily exchange contact info.
2. Picking up new information
Business networking events are often set up as seminars, allowing business owners to exchange strategies and tips. The best events get a group of like-minded individuals together, who can share their personal experiences and advice they’ve learned along the way. You might gain exposure to a whole new approach or strategy you’ve never thought of.
It’s also important to remember that the business world is a swiftly changing landscape. Connecting with other businesses can keep you abreast of important news, changes to regulations, or consumer trends you might not be aware of. Furthermore, discussing your ideas with potential clients gives you valuable market research insight for a better customer experience.
3. Increasing brand visibility
Business networking groups are essential for start-ups, who need time to gain recognition. By attending scheduled events with the same group of business owners, you’ll start to garner their trust and grow your brand’s visibility at the same time. Simply showing up regularly to events shows you’re reliable and have a keen interest in making connections.
The next step for growing your small business network is to host events of your own. Consider reaching out to contacts and hosting a lecture, dinner, or other special networking event. It’s a good way of establishing a sense of expertise.
4. Building a business social network
Ultimately, business networking is all about making connections. For example, if you need to hire an accountant for your business and are torn between two equally qualified individuals, you’re more likely to choose the one you’ve met in person. Small business network events also offer a great way to spread brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing. While the person you’re speaking to might not be an immediate sales lead, they might know other people that could really use your services.
There’s the added benefit of helping other people at the same time. Business social networks are set up partly to lift one another up, and it’s a two-way street. Even when you’re not generating direct sales leads, you could be offering advice, making recommendations, or taking on other tasks that help another business owner succeed.
How to find business networking groups
If you’re ready to get started, look for events directly related to your industry or location. There might be a small business network group in your hometown, where local business owners get together to have an informal chat once a month. You can search on LinkedIn to find like-minded professionals near you.
Business seminars offer a series of workshops to grow your skill set and exchange valuable information. These also include ample opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow attendees. There are also professional associations for most industries which host regular events for members. No matter which type of event you choose, be sure to enter with an open mind and a stack of business cards.
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