Networking isn’t just a way for college grads to land that dream entry-level job— it can be a pivotal strategy in helping your business grow.
Networking is a common strategy for business professionals to both broaden their knowledge about their field, as well as related fields, and expand their circle in the process.
But, the true power of networking is building mutually beneficial relationships that allow you to turn every corner with confidence— not the fleeting joy of handing out business cards.
The power of networking can help your business in a number of ways.
LinkedIn is a highly effective way to network digitally, reaching new prospects and potential business partners with minimal efforts. Regardless of the digital possibilities, it’s important not to underestimate the value of traditional networking approaches.
Between 5-20% of new customers come from trade shows, and approximately 40% of prospects transition to new customers after in-person meetings.
There are plenty of reasons every entrepreneur or business owner should capitalize on the power of networking.
Your best business resource is closer than you think.
You might have opened an accounting firm because you’re an expert accountant, and you’ve been learning about it your entire life. But at a certain stage, pushing your business to new horizons might take more than accounting expertise.
That’s where the power of networking can come in handy.
Seeking advice from professionals who have been in your seat before, or in related fields, is invaluable.
A veteran accounting firm owner with over 20 years of experience can help you to assess and overcome this difficult stage of your business’s life. Alternatively, a growth consultant could have relevant insight about how to hire the next wave of employees to plot your company’s future.
Networking at every available opportunity can ensure that these resources are available to you when you need them most. For this reason, it’s crucial to forge new relationships with the key players in your field.
But it’s important to never undervalue the advice of somebody in a related space— networking with them can yield the same (if not greater) value in the long run.
It’s all about who you know.
Well, it’s not all about who you know. Your network, however, can double as one of your best lead generators (and sales representatives)—often at no additional cost!
If you forge the right connections with the right people, then your network will come to understand the value of your business. Consequently, they’ll be eager to refer your business to any connections in need of your products or services. 90% of business owners attest that distributing business cards has helped them to earn new business.
But it’s not all about cut-and-dry lead generation.
Your network has a more sophisticated understanding of your business than the average person. For this reason, the leads that come from these referrals tend to be higher-quality and more impactful than standard leads that might come through marketing or outreach efforts.
As your business grows and scales, a well-oiled referral network can work wonders in generating top-notch leads.
You’re in business because you had a great idea. But the best entrepreneurs are constantly looking to double down on this success by reinventing their businesses as time passes.
The power of networking can open up a whole new world of fresh ideas for improving your business.
People with a fresh perspective on challenges your business is facing can offer highly valuable advice about conquering these obstacles. While they might not be as educated about your industry or business model, a fresh perspective might be all you need to create a plan of action. In fact, they might be able to use a previous experience or challenge they faced in their industry to inform their perspective.
In the end, simply explaining the challenge and opening up a dialogue can help you revisit these challenges independently, too.
As a business owner, you’re your own business’s best advocate. While you network with new people to build a name for yourself, you can also build awareness for yourself and your brand!
Whether you’re invited to participate in a networking event, or to speak at an industry conference, developing a reputation is paramount.
By speaking at a conference, you can demonstrate your expertise, and open up the door to a world of new personal opportunities down the line. The same goes for your business— anecdotes about challenges you’ve overcome can help inspire interest in your company.
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to networking effectively. There are, however, a few networking strategies and tactics you can employ to rise above the rest of the pack.
Knowing the right people is important, but it’s not enough. To turn somebody you’ve met into a true connection, you must find a common ground.
This common ground is essential in helping you to establish a long-term rapport with them. It can both strengthen your relationship, and help the connection to remember you among a sea of faces.
There’s no precise guidelines when it comes to the nature of this common ground, either.
It could be a challenge that you overcame in your business, which your connection overcame as well, like adapting to new regulations. Or, the common ground could be new technology that altered the way you conduct business, for better or worse.
However, the common ground doesn’t have to rest on your professional life. It could also be a shared hobby, or an anecdote about a recent trip.
Having something to bring up the next time you cross paths will put you miles above other connections.
Sure, your main goal in networking is to further yourself and your business. But before you can request anything from your network, it’s important to play your cards right by demonstrating that you’re also willing to give.
This is a key part of playing the networking game correctly.
If a connection requests your input about resolving a challenge, then be willing to offer input. Showing that you’re eager to help these connections along their journey proves your value as a connection.
That being said, it’s not always wise to wait around for connections to come knocking.
You can also establish yourself as a valuable member of the network by simply passing along an interesting article you’ve found, related either to their business or a conversation you recently had.
This simple gesture also goes a long way in building a long-term rapport, without overstepping your boundaries.
LinkedIn is the most powerful networking tool at your disposal. As of August 2019, there are 575 million registered users, and nearly half are active on a monthly basis.
There are endless opportunities waiting for you on LinkedIn. But to harness LinkedIn’s true networking potential, you need to be active. And unfortunately, that doesn’t mean simply congratulating your friend for another year at the same company.
Your first step should be to complete your LinkedIn profile, which ideally, should include:
Completing your profile is an important step in this process. If your profile is incomplete, then it’s less likely to show up in search results. You can also take note of how far along you are in the process using LinkedIn’s progress tracker.
However, completing your profile is only the beginning. As you continue expanding your network and professional reputation, be sure to do the following:
New opportunities are always coming up on LinkedIn— all you have to do is reach out!
After your connections become part of your network, they’re likely willing to lend you a helping hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
Whether you need guidance, a warm introduction to a prospect, or access to an upcoming opportunity, capitalize on the connections within your network!
The power of networking can help your business grow, but unless you’re giving them a slice of equity, they’re probably not offering you capital. And often, capital is a key ingredient to laying the foundation for your next step.
The team at National Business Capital & Services can help you find the best deal on a business loan through our 75+ lender marketplace! After filling out a 60-second application, we’ll touch base to learn more about your goals, and pair you with the best possible options. You could receive funding as quickly as 48 hours!
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National Business Capital & Services is the #1 FinTech marketplace offering small business loans and services. Harnessing the power of smart technology and even smarter people, we’ve streamlined the approval process to secure over $1 billion in financing for small business owners to date.
Our expert Business Financing Advisors work within our 75+ Lender Marketplace in real time to give you easy access to the best low-interest SBA loans, short and long-term loans and business lines of credit, as well as a full suite of revenue-driving business services.
We strengthen local communities one small business loan at a time. For every deal we fund, we donate 10 meals to Feeding America!
Matt Carrigan is the Content Writer at National Business Capital & Services. He loves spending every day creating content to educate business owners across every industry about business growth strategies, and how they can access the funding they need!