Even with LinkedIn, Alignable, FaceBook Live, and the latest social media platforms, face-to-face interaction is the key for building trust. Making a personal connection with eye contact, fist bump or handshake, and solid conversation is still the most powerful networking. By growing your network, opportunities arise, business partners appear, connections are made and trust is garnered in the local community.
No matter the size of your company, you need local support, and there’s no better way to get it than putting your name out there.
Here are just a few of the reasons networking is so crucial to success.
- Creating Connections: No matter what industry you’re in, networking helps refine interpersonal communication skills by contacting a diverse group of professionals. Mastering the art of starting a conversation, asking engaging questions, and creating new connections is key not only for successful networking, but for all business relationships.
- Generation of Referrals/Increased Business: This is probably the most obvious benefit and the reason most business owners decide to participate in networking activities and join networking groups. The great news is that the referrals that you get through networking are normally high quality and most of the time are even pre-qualified for you. You can then follow up on these referrals/leads and turn them into clients. So you are getting much higher quality leads from networking than other forms of marketing.
- Raising Self-Awareness: Networking builds self-awareness by allowing you to develop a verbal presentation of your values, beliefs, and professional experiences. Being able to showcase your skills in less than 30 seconds is crucial not only for forging connections, but for building your confidence as a professional.
- Advice and Mentoring: Having like-minded business owners to talk to also gives you the opportunity to get advice from them on all sorts of things related to your business or even your personal life and obtaining that important work-life balance. Networking is a great way to tap into advice and expertise that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get hold of.
Here are some ways to make the most of this networking:
- Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin: Business networking is about cultivating relationships. You're not going to be able to do that if you're trying to be an active participant with five or six different groups. And you need to be an active participant in whatever networking group you join. It's contributing that will bring you the benefits of networking you're looking for, such as more business. You need to not only attend the meetings of your networking group regularly, but go prepared to offer something of value to the group.
- Make the Most Of It: The most important skill for effective business networking is listening; focusing on how you can help the person you are listening to rather than on how he or she can help you is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Keeping an Open Mind: Networking events are a great opportunity to find professional inspiration and discover new or developing industries that may be perfect for your skillset. You may encounter successful startups, innovative business ideas, or stories of success that lead you to pursue a new profession or realize long-term goals. Do not restrict yourself to networks exclusively for people from similar backgrounds or in a similar line of business. Widen your network as much as possible because you never know who knows who.
Where to get started?
Here at LinkPoint Media, we are strong advocates of our local Chamber - the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce.
The Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit corporation comprised of local businesses and individuals. The Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce is committed to creating a strong community and encouraging a positive business climate. The strength of the Chamber of Commerce is our members--together we promote our individual and business members as well as the community at large.
We encourage you to join the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce to take advantage of the many benefits we can offer your business. We offer partnerships with other local organizations, networking, leadership development and legislative advocacy. We also host a number of special events that provide our members the opportunity to communicate with other Chamber members.
Your local Chamber can offer numerous opportunities to network with fellow business owners, entrepreneurs, business professionals, and like-minded individuals. This may include networking specific events, ribbon cuttings and grand opening celebrations, volunteer opportunities, conferences, and educational opportunities. These, along with many other member benefits, are a great asset for you and your business.
Starting with your local Chamber is a great way to tap into benefits and opportunities to network locally and grow your business.
But how else can you network?
While we are pushing for more in person networking, it is still important to utilize social platforms to further those relationships. Keep LinkedIn and Facebook as key factors in your reach.
Ready to get started?
No matter what industry you’re in or how you choose to, networking is always a good idea for business professionals wishing to build relationships and grow their influence.
Now you may be ready to step into your first networking event, but what are you bringing with?
When you network, the goal is to stand out and leave a lasting impression. We recommend alway having updated businesses cards on hand to exchange. Leaving someone with a tangible means to get into communication with you is much more effective than saying a name and hoping it sticks.
Regardless of what field you’re in or trying to market to, your business card should be a unique expression of your company. You’re selling yourself amongst thousands of others, so you need to stand out. This is where the design elements come into play. Having an aesthetic that is consistent throughout all of your marketing efforts is key. Additionally, consider the fact that the format, color, and the material of the actual card can be used as a conversation starter.
Contact LinkPoint today for more information on local networking, as well as, how we can help you stand out in the crowd with an exceptional business card design.