“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” – Diane Helbig.
This quote is a good summary of the importance of networking. While just the thought of networking can be stressful even for the most outgoing extrovert, building your network ultimately pays off. To understand how crucial it is to network, you must grasp the hows and whys of effective networking. When you do this, you’ll know why you need to spend time building your network.
Building networks is an essential part of creating a successful business. Similar to investing in your people, infrastructure, or marketing, you must also invest in building your networks.
Let’s take a look at the numerous benefits, or the whys, of building networks in business:
1. Discover business opportunities
Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and neither does business. If you don’t spend time getting to know other businesses in your local community, you may miss out on new business opportunities.
For example, you’re a supplier of paper products, and a local company is looking to change its current supplier. However, the company did not share this information publicly, and they’re only asking members of their network for referrals. If you’re not part of their network, or at least connected to someone in their circle, you won’t know about the opportunity and your business won’t even be considered. This is one clear example of why you should work on building your network.
2. Find solutions to business problems
By building your network, you are opening doors to new information and new people who can help you solve your business problems. Your new contacts may have gone through the same or similar issues and can give helpful advice on how to get through a specific situation. Again, if you’re not part of a network, you won’t be able to meet new people who can help guide you through challenging situations.
Remember, your network is there to help you succeed in business. You can ask your contacts for help and advice when you are in a situation you’re unsure how to handle. At the same time, ensure that you are also willing to help others in your network when it’s their turn to ask for your help and assistance.
3. Promote your business profile
It goes without saying that building networks in business will help raise your business profile. Being part of a business network helps get you and your business noticed by others. The more you are an active member of the network and connect with your contacts, the more you’ll become visible to potential customers.
Often, people and organisations look at a company’s reputation and track record before working with them. Joining a business network helps build your business profile and reputation. Your company name will ring a bell and become more well-known in your industry. If you keep to yourself, which might be more comfortable today, it won’t help promote your business in the long run.
4. Gain referrals and potential partnerships
One of the most important benefits of being part of a business network is meeting new people and learning about other businesses. They can become your future referral or business partners. You are more likely to trust someone in the same network as you and vice versa. Many people find referral partners within their own networks.
Also, some people are always on the lookout for new business ventures and partners. If you’re looking for someone to partner with, being part of a network can help you find potential partners.
5. Access new customers and suppliers
Building your business network also gives you greater visibility of new customers or suppliers. Finding a new supplier can be tricky, but your contacts can refer to their trusted suppliers and help you find new ones faster. Networking can also help you gain new customers, either from a new partnership with a business contact or a member of the network itself.
6. Benchmark yourself against other similar companies
Being part of a network allows you to benchmark your company’s performance against others in your industry. It will give you a better idea of your organisation’s strengths and areas of improvement. You may discover new practices that others are doing that you aren’t doing or have yet to try.
7. Stay updated with the latest industry news
Your business network is a valuable source of the latest industry developments, including new technology, updated legal requirements, and new players. Your contacts are important sources of information that can directly impact you and your organisation.
For example, you just found out that a new legal requirement will directly impact your bottom line. Speaking to others from the same industry can give you insights into effectively managing this change.
8. Create connections
Networking is all about building relationships with your contacts. Think of networking as more than just growing your network to have a vast network. Creating connections is an essential part of networking. A sense of connection is the basis of all relationships.
You must be intentional when creating connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. It would help if you had a genuine interest in the other person and tried to initiate interactions. There must be opportunities to deepen your relationship that can lead to positive effects on each other’s businesses later.
These are the benefits, or the whys, of building networks in business. In other words, building your network is a crucial part of doing business. It is not something you should avoid but where you should intentionally spend time and effort on.
While networking is not everyone’s cup of tea, the benefits you gain are valuable. The information, advice, and connections you receive while networking are vital to your company’s future success.
Just ask yourself, why is there so much information on networking, including specialised groups and events? The answer is that it is a crucial and effective way to expand your business and find success.