As of 2020, there are about 31.7 million small businesses in the United States. That’s a staggering 99.9 percent of all businesses in the country.
In recent years, the US economy has strengthened, providing many new opportunities for entrepreneurs. The proliferation of small businesses across the country makes for a highly competitive marketplace. But it also means that small business owners have countless opportunities to network with other like-minded entrepreneurs and thought leaders in their industry.
Business networking can prove beneficial for your career as an entrepreneur by helping you create mutually beneficial relationships that propel your business to the next level.
But what exactly is business networking? Why should you invest your time, money, and effort in forming the right business networks? How can you network with other entrepreneurs successfully?
These are just some of the issues we discuss in today’s post. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Business Networking?
Business networking refers to a socioeconomic business activity where entrepreneurs, business people, and potential clients meet business relationships for the benefit of all involved. During business networking, the parties create, recognize, or act upon business opportunities. They also share business information and seek prospective partners for new ventures.
For many small businesses, networking efforts have the biggest impact when it comes to boosting sales, increasing efficiency, and building brand awareness.
Unlike what some people think, business networking isn’t about asking for favors. Instead, it’s about establishing a trusting relationship and friendship with other entrepreneurs. A central part of effective networking is helping other business owners meet their needs.
How Can Networking Build Your Business?
There are many reasons why networking is so valuable. Let’s look at eight of them.
You Get Business Leads
One of the primary goals of business networking is to create leads for your enterprise. A crucial part of networking like a pro is getting potentially beneficial contacts and using them to open new doors for business opportunities.
When following up on leads, be sure to communicate professionally. While most people genuinely want to help others, there are wary of someone pestering them for opportunities. Always be sensitive when it comes to timing.
Networking Helps You Learn of Business Best Practices
Networking events offer an opportunity for you to identify industry benchmarks and learn of business best practices. You get to know what others in your industry are doing, which is a beneficial strategy for your company.
For instance, if you run a restaurant or are part of a restaurant association, you get to learn of what software programs or staff management practices top restaurants are using to thrive. You can then apply this information to your business.
You Get to Keep Up With Business Trends
There’s no better way to stay on the cutting edge of the latest business trends and technology than interacting with other people in your industry. Networking with the right players in your niche can give you access to inside information regarding the hottest trends in the market. This information helps you implement a fresh approach to how you do things.
Networking Boosts Your Confidence
Confidence is one of the most powerful attributes an entrepreneur can have. Unfortunately, many business people aren’t naturally good at making conversations with people they’ve never met before.
Business networking gives you an opportunity to learn how to calm social anxiety and make potentially beneficial business connections. This is valuable, given that your success as an entrepreneur depends on how well you talk to people.
One way to boost your confidence is to learn how to start striking up a conversation. In particular, practice being friendly to people. Learn how to remember the names of people you meet, so it’s easier to start a conversation when you meet them next.
You Create Business Connections
You’ve probably heard that it’s ‘not necessarily what you know but who you know’ that makes the greatest difference in today’s world. It’s a fact that applies to building a successful business too.
Networking gives you opportunities to connect with influential players in your industry. In times of need, you can always call in these players.
An added benefit of forming a business connection with the right person is that you can tap into their already established networks as well.
You Benefit from Referrals
When you join a business network group and take part in networking activities, members of your network are likely to refer your companies to potential clients. These referrals are usually prequalified for your business.
Once a client is referred to you, you can focus on giving them the best, so they turn into permanent clients.
You Get Positive Influence
Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, especially when you’re just starting out in an already crowded marketplace. It’s easy to get discouraged when things get tough. During such times, you need all the help and encouragement you can get.
Surrounding yourself with positive-minded people in your industry can help provide the inspiration you need to go on. Business networking focuses on growth, and there’s no room for negativity. It’s the sort of thing you need to weather economic storms and climb to the top of your entrepreneurial career.
Networking Raises Your Profile
Business networking is an easy way to get noticed and stay visible. The more social and business networking events you attend, the more your face and brand become well-known.
Be willing to offer useful tips and information to other members of your networking groups. Doing so builds you a reputation for being reliable, supportive, and knowledgeable. As you continue to earn the respect of people in your industry, it becomes much easier to get referrals.
Network More to Boost Your Business
The power of a robust professional business network in helping your company succeed is undeniable. When you do it well, networking can help you gain more business leads, stay on top of current business trends, keep your profile high.
Are you interested in learning about business networking groups you can join in your area? Sign up with us today.