My mother won 2 golden globes, 2 emmys and many other awards as a top actress, one uncle won 2 Academy Awards as the best cinematographer and the other uncle became a billionaire in real estate (that “b” was not a typo or an exaggeration). As for me and my brother, we both developed several multi-million dollar companies from scratch.
What did we all have in common? We did NOT start with money. Instead, we all worked hard, we're passionate about being the best, were excellent in selecting the right people to work with, and skilled in the art of communication. That, my friends, is what business networking is all about.
So, what are the benefits of business networking?
This is the main reason for business networking. Think about it, the more people you know who are aware of what you do, the more recommendations you will get.
Learning From Others
Networking with others helps you meet and learn from many business professionals with a wealth of knowledge, experience and advice. Most are more than happy to share their knowledge with you.
Discovering Great Suppliers
Business networking is also a wonderful way to encounter new suppliers. Need an accountant? Printer? Web designer? or someone to assist with getting insurance? These new found relationships can not only help you or your business personally, but serve to be great alliance partners in sharing referrals.
Many times people are stuck on building their business on a way they are used to, or were taught. Meeting new people can bring about new ideas and ways to see things differently. You might learn about new target markets that you hadn’t considered before. Or perhaps, a new way to attract the type of clients you are looking for.
Motivation and Inspiration
Most people find that business owners and entrepreneurs share a common passion. An energy that comes from having had to rely on their own resources to survive. Sharing these things in common not only builds a bond, but a collaborative effort on helping each other succeed.
Of course, just getting out there and introducing yourself to others is going to increase your confidence and improve the way you present yourself and your business. Afterall, practice makes perfect right? The more people you speak with, the better your “pitch” will be. Many formerly shy people have become excellent speakers as their experience builds.
Developing Great Friendships
Another often overlooked benefit of networking is meeting great friends. Whether a good friend, great friend, funny friend of soul mate. You see, networking is not just about business, it is about adding people and experiences to your life. Just sharing your ideas, your goodwill and your enthusiasm for business with like-minded people is empowering.
So why doesn’t everyone network? Well, there are a number of reasons...
Lack of Confidence.
One of the main reasons is that they are not confident. In fact, for some business professionals the idea of interacting with strangers is almost paralyzing to them. Others complain of low self-confidence, shyness, fear of rejection or they think it makes them look desperate. The fact is a successful entrepreneur has no fear and in fact, cherishes the ability to meet others, grow their business and interact with others that might bring mutual benefit.
They are too busy.
Often the excuse people make is that they are to busy to network, but is that really true? Business Networking generates referrals, which are the highest quality lead you can get. They are trusted, easy to close, recurring and cost nothing. In other words, much more valuable than advertising or other ways to generate leads. Therefore, in terms of time, it is probably one of the best ways to spend your time!
Some people are impatient and were sold on the just advertise and someone will call theory. The problem with that is that advertising is becoming more expensive, less effective and requires a continuous investment. I like to equate this to the person with chapped lips. Sure, they can lick their lips and it helps for a few seconds, but than what - it gets worse and you must keep licking them to temporarily satisfy yourself. For most businesses, advertising is not a long term answer. The only one getting rich is the advertising companies.
Networking seems like selling
Not true. In fact, proper business networking isn't something you do to someone, but rather something you do with them. The best networkers actually do more listening than speaking. The better you understand the needs of the other, the more effectively you can help them and in doing so, build a relationship for mutual benefit.
So now that you have learned about the massive benefits of business networking, as well as the few reasons why people don’t do it, what are you going to do? Are you going to put your financial future in the hands of advertising companies, or are you going to build your own free ongoing lead generation machine and, at the same time, meet some wonderful friends along the way?