Have you ever considered the importance of building relationships and what good connections can mean for you, both professionally and personally?
If you want to grow your business, your energy really must be focused on the credible and trustworthy relationships you form with your customers, suppliers, referral partners and even your competitors.
So how do you identify the stakeholders within your network, especially those who are most valuable in supporting your growth? We can all attend random meetings and be a ‘known face’ in our local B2B community while handing out copious amounts of business cards, but often that doesn’t actually build meaningful business relationships.
It’s been proven time and again that being part of a ‘well run’ networking group has exponential benefits. Choose your group carefully though. Forbes Council Member and author, Joe Brocato, suggests checking out any networking group with five simple questions before committing. A networking group that is focused on growth will be structured, keep members accountable and regularly measure results. (You can read his article here).
As well as supporting you with education, encouragement and referrals, if a group is well-run and established, you will instantly become part of a community of business owners and entrepreneurs who are focused on growth and relationship building.
Here are the top reasons why choosing an established network is great for business growth and building relationships:
Experienced and seasoned professionals
When you join an established group, you’ll find a wealth of experience and knowledge amongst the members, business owners who have learnt what it takes to survive and thrive in your local area.
Education and business advice
Being able to seek advice from those seasoned professionals in your group is an incredible asset, especially if you are new to business. With tried and trusted strategies and systems for business and personal growth, a well-run group can also support you in your personal development.
Running a small business can sometimes be a lonely place, even if you have staff, as everything is ‘on your shoulders’. Meeting regularly with a group, making a commitment to the community and being prepared to offer support to others, will allow for relationships to develop and help you to ‘share the load’. Just being part of the group adds a certain level of trust, but it’s how you show up that will build your interaction with the group and the relationships you form. Often, these relationships turn into friendships, leading to both personal and professional growth.
Referral partners and working collaboratively
When people know and trust you, it’s so easy for them to refer you to others. Establish yourself within your group, support others, and watch as your referrals increase. As your relationships grow closer, you’re likely to find that collaborative opportunities occur. Collaborations will not always be beneficial, but make sure you don’t dismiss them, even if you sometimes have to look outside the box or decide to move in a slightly different direction.
Opportunities for sourcing suppliers, partners or employees
Being part of an established network means you have a much higher number of connections. It’s not just who you know, but who the people in your network know. Look at your network as the first resource to sourcing the things you need to keep your business functioning smoothly and efficiently.
So, when you’re looking to join an established business-networking group, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
1. There will likely be a cost – a professional network has overheads. An established group has to organise face-to-face venues, which often involve breakfast, lunch or refreshments, as well as having a wealth of valuable resources to tap into. These come at a cost, so bear in mind that a fair monthly subscription is often charged. When you compare this to your ROI though, you’ll be more than happy to be a subscriber.
2. Are you prepared to make the commitment? To truly establish yourself within the network and create the relationships you desire, you must be prepared to commit to the terms of the group. Make sure you are available for the meetings you have committed to. There’s no point in joining a morning breakfast meeting if you have to drop the kids at school. Find a meeting that you know you will regularly be able to attend. Of course, there will be times when you can’t make it, but on the whole, your commitment will establish what you get in return.
3. The more you give, the more you receive. Are you prepared to contribute to your group, catch up with prospects outside of the meeting and offer advice in your field expertise to others in the group? When forming relationships, being prepared to help out and support others in the group will go a long way to establishing your level of interaction and what you receive in return.
Hopefully, this article has given you some understanding of how networking and building relationships can support you professionally and how being a part of an established and connected networking group can make the difference between surviving and thriving in your business.
As a professional networking group, District32 has over 360 members, which equates to over one million connections! We’d be happy to support you in your business growth, so when you’re ready, reach out and contact us, or you can read more here.