Networking is arguably one of the most powerful tools that business professionals can use to further not just the companies they work for, but also their personal brand. There’s a saying that it’s not what you know, but who you know. This couldn’t be closer to the truth in the world of business. It’s extremely important that all businesses, especially startups, look for ways to grow their sphere of influence for greater access to information and services.
But is networking really that important? Does a startup need to concern themselves with networking these days, especially when everyone has access to social networks? Surely if you need a service, you could search it up on Google and speak to a service provider that way? While that’s certainly true, it doesn’t mean that you can completely ignore networking and there are countless benefits that make it an indispensable tool for your startup.
Networking helps form better relationships with suppliers and clients
In most cases, relationships with suppliers don’t mean much if you have multiple vendors offering the same thing. There’s enough competition there that you can always get the lowest price and best value if you do a bit of searching. However, matters get a little more complicated when you’re looking for parts that are considered a little more niche. For instance, industrial rainwater tanks aren’t the most common parts available and reputation for the brand means a lot. You’ll want to work with established brands and potentially have custom solutions made for your needs. In a case like this, you’re better off working with a company directly instead of trying to look for the best prices.
This is where contacts and networking can really come in hand. Most people don’t realize the power of networking until they’re able to start making custom orders and getting in touch with the company directly to request specific things. The reality is that most companies are more than happy to provide extra services to a client if they’re going to be working with them for the foreseeable future, hence why it’s important to build relationships with other businesses if you need niche or difficult-to-acquire items.
Furthermore, if you’re a company that provides some kind of service, then you’ll actually have a much easier time communicating with clients as well. Building good relationships with clients means repeat business, word-of-mouth referrals and good reviews. Networking also opens up more business opportunities for your company, resulting in higher profits and chances to grow your business substantially. It’s important that you don’t neglect how powerful networking can be, especially when it comes to growing a relatively small business to take on more clients and customers. We highly suggest that you focus on your networking as a new business if you want to establish a good relationship with other big players in the industry.
However, it’s important that you don’t abuse these relationships. At the end of the day, a business relationship should be mutually beneficial for everyone. There will be times where you might owe someone a favour or request a bit of extra assistance from another company. This can be something small such as faster delivery times or pushing your order to the front of the queue. These things can help your business run more efficiently, but you can’t abuse these benefits or else you risk breaking the relationship and making it more difficult for you in the future. Make absolutely sure you practice moderation and ensure that your main focus is to build more opportunities for future growth and stability within your business.
What does it take to be great at networking?
Networking can seem difficult for someone that isn’t accustomed to it. So here are a couple of helpful tips to assist you.
- Attend as many public events as you can. Even if you can’t afford to set up your own booth, making an appearance is good enough as it helps you network with other companies and freelancers in your industry.
- Focus on quality, not quantity. Having 5,000 contacts is pointless if you can only interact with ten of them. Narrow down your contacts and only focus on the ones that can provide you with some sense of value. If you neglect this, you’ll end up trying to shuffle through countless different people and you’ll get confused.
- Take time to make real connections with people that you meet at events. Don’t just try and soak up all the information you can in a 2-minute conversation then ignore them for the rest of the event. Try and seek out the people that are in a good position to provide mutual benefits, then focus on building those relationships by being courteous and friendly.
- Use social media as much as possible. This is a great way to network if you’re unable to make it to public events, or if the work you do is primarily focused online. Social media helps you build a solid presence on the internet and it can help you reach out to influencers, new potential clients and other businesses in your industry.
- Be discreet when you make new connections. Don’t be that person on social media that talks about everything and everyone. If you establish a new connection as a business, don’t start the fanfare and announce it on your blog or news site. Don’t even mention partnerships until something is official and needs to be announced.
- Lastly, make sure you provide value to the people you talk to. This could mean giving them services that they find useful or it could mean providing information for useful things they should know.
There are plenty of other ways to improve your networking ability, but the general idea is to get out of your comfort zone and start making real connections with others in your industry. This is perhaps the best way to meet new professionals that will help carry your business further.