Networking is not a new concept. Some may view it as an old marketing tactic or out of date. Some prefer to simply build all their marketing through social media and meet people that way. And if that works for you, great! But most entrepreneurs I know (myself included) have built their business, especially in the beginning, mainly from networking!
There are multiple reasons why you should be networking...not all of them are about your bottom line. So let me explain. Also, I'm gonna give you a few tips on how to find networking events
The main reason people go to networking event is exposure. You'll meet a lot of people in your local community. These same people could be potential clients or even refer you. I've actually gotten referrasl from many people who I've met, yet haven't worked with personally.
Bottom line, people need to know you exist. Not only that, they need to know who you are...put a face to a name. What's more...put a person to that face. As a small business owner, people will invest in YOU before the invest in your product or service. Your industry has competition. Sometimes winning business has everything to do with meeting people and "clicking" with people and nothing to do with who may be better or cheaper. Just keeping it real here, folks!
Meeting Like-Minded People
Every time I go to a networking event, I always meet like-minded people! People who think like me, have similar experiences, have the same type of frustrations, or want to learn the same type things. It's refreshing to be around people like this. Sometimes, It's even someone who works in Corporate America, not even an entrepreneur. Truth is, I've learned so much from my corporate career friends. If you think about it, they work for big business...and usually big businesses were once small businesses who grew...and have a lot of processes in place. I can totally learn from that. Also, most people at Networking events want to get ahead just like you. So you'll meet a lot of people who want to help you get ahead, and likewise, you'll want to help others. It's a win, win.
A lot of Networking events have some type of training, education, or presenter attached to it. You can always learn something at a networking event like this. I love it when someone in a different industry speaks at these events. It's like their giving me a glimpse into their industry. I can either learn tips about running my business, or learn tips about their business which can help my businesses. For instance, if a CPA speaks at an event, I'm sure I'll learn a thing or two about my taxes. If a web designer speaks, I can learn a thing or two about branding. On the other hand, perhaps YOU will find yourself speaking eventually. Which will only lead to more referrals!
This is what I love MOST about networking. While meeting people and learning about their industry and their business, I almost always find ways I can get involved in the community. Maybe someone is having an charitable event you'd like to go to...maybe a business need items for a silent auctions. Some networking events even promote their own charitable events or promote ways to serve in the community. However you find these opportunities, take them! Because in most cities, people like to do business with those that are involved in the local community.
Side Note...Even if your business mainly an online business, getting involved in your local community can only help you. Most millionaires who don't need to hustle for business, still show up and support their local communities, and they are loved for it!
Ways to Find Networking Opportunities
look up your local Chamber of Commerce. Evey Chamber usually has networking events that even non-members can go to.
look up meet-ups on meetup.com to find meet-ups in your interest.
Use Facebook. Search networking or groups in your local area. Even online networking groups probably have a get together.
Ask! When you're at one networking event, ask others there if they know of any others? Most people who go to one networking even probably go to a few.
Hopefully these tips get you thinking of ways to network and how to take advantage of networking events. Leave me comment if networking has worked for you OR if you have any other networking tips!