Bringing in new business is tough. Especially for small and medium sized businesses that have become too comfortable and rely on repeat business with a select number of longstanding clients. Keeping all your ‘eggs in one basket’ is not a sensible choice in today’s business world; who knows when a hungry competitor will swoop in, leaving you wondering what to do next.
It’s always a good idea to have a number of repeat business clients and a way to achieve this is to start business networking. It will help you engage with more people, make more connections and in turn, bring home the bacon! There are countless benefits but, highlighted below are five of the main reasons why you should need to embrace the power of networking:
This is an obvious one but networking is a sure-fire way to increase new business opportunities. Remember, it’s about building relationships and delivering your message; asking for business at a networking event is a no-no. Nobody likes to be sold to, especially not the first time meeting you within a pressured environment. Instead, try following up with your new connections after the event. This way you’ll find your professional approach will lead to more opportunities and referral enquiries.
We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’. Of course it’s important to be skilled at what you do but without anyone to do business with, it becomes a little pointless. Although it takes time to build strong business connections, you have to start somewhere. Joining networking groups such as weekly breakfast meetings for local businesses is a good starting point (and a good excuse for a full English…). And remember, start small; making a good impression with a couple of people is more effective than dashing between people, collecting and distributing as many business cards as you can.
Sharing is Caring
Even if some of your new found networking buddies aren’t relevant when it comes to selling your product or service, you can still both be useful to each other in a myriad of ways. For starters It’s the perfect opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, to talk to people with expertise in your field and who knows, you may even find partnership or joint venture opportunities. Sharing your advice and expertise with others will help them, and make you feel good about yourself; it’s a win-win!
Putting yourself out there and facing a room full of strangers can be scary, at least for the first few times. You need to step outside of your comfort zone and like anything, you will get better at it and your confidence will grow. Research the people attending the event, the more you know about the people you are meeting, the more confident you will feel talking to them. Try not to let any awkward encounters put you off trying again because eventually meeting new people will become easier, both in your business and personal life.
Making a good impression is beneficial for both you and your company. Networking can lead to anything: future employment opportunities, partnerships, maybe even a new business partner? The average recruitment cost of filling a vacancy is reckoned to be around £4,500 so if your company is looking to employ, it’s a great way to meet industry professionals that might be looking for a job – you could find the perfect candidate without engaging a recruitment agency, saving your company both time and money.
Whilst I’ve highlighted some of the main reasons why you should business network, there are countless others. The best way to discover these benefits is to get yourself out there, raise your profile and show people why they need to do business with you. I look forward to meeting you soon…