Networking Tips: Reasons for Getting Involved
Networking is a very good way to build your business. I started doing this when I came online in 2006, and now it is an integral part of my business strategy. My first networking was within my Rotary Club, even though I didn’t think of it as such at the time. When you network strategically, you will meet many different experts from various types of business and you will also be seen as an expert in your business. This is a win-win scenario because not only can you seek advice from the other business experts, but you can also give advice to those who ask you.
So, why should you get involved with networking? Here are six networking tips that make sense.
- To seek guidance
There are people in various networks and organizations who can offer you guidance in your business and/or career. Getting to know these movers and shakers can truly pay off, both now and in the future. In order to get the guidance you need, you’ll need to demonstrate that you are open to direction by seeking advice on small issues.
Don’t start right off asking for favors, or bother people for accounting advice who have CPAs and who normally charge for their services. But instead, do ask for more open-ended and indirect advice about the different choices you are making in your business. For example, blogging was just becoming more recognized as a marketing strategy back in 2006, so I asked for help in choosing a theme for my site and in writing my ‘About’ page.
For example, if you’re having a conversation with someone you admire, mention a couple of ideas that you have and how you’re unsure of which way to go. Mention solution A and solution B, both of which you’ve already studied and know either one will work out great. Ask them what they think.
If the advice is good, move with their advice and follow up with a thank you note and information about how well their advice worked for you. You’ll make them feel wonderful, and you will also get to mention your own business at the same time without ever asking for them to do anything that big for you.
- To find more opportunities
If your business isn’t growing, or you are not advancing in your career, then another reason to network is to find more opportunities for yourself. When you nurture a network over time, it’s only natural for people within that network to mention opportunities to you because you have already built up your like, know, and trust factor with them. It’s up to you to either follow those opportunities or not. But, the opportunities will present themselves as long as you’ve done the work to keep the network well lubricated throughout the months and years you have known them.
Keep in mind that people are chosen more often for jobs through referral and this is true whether you are a business owner, an independent contractor, or even an employee. Keeping your network ready for when you need a change is important. Take the time to offer up your skills to volunteer to show your skill level.
- To get support from peers
Having a strong network will not only pay off during bad times but also during good times such as celebrating winning an award, or even just your birthday or an anniversary of when you began your business. Inviting your peers to a party to celebrate your successes will endear you to your network, and help you talk more about what you do for people within your business.
Do remember that this is not a one-way street. When your peers need your help and support, you should freely offer it. If someone writes a book, has a baby, goes in for surgery, wins an award, and so forth, be there for them as you would want them to be there for you. Networks are good for both business and personal reasons. That’s why they are called relationships.
- As an outlet for discovery and professional growth
It can be so easy to get caught inside your own business bubble and forget how important it is to stay open to learning. Networking groups will often have learning sessions that can help you in more ways than one. Go to the events to learn, attend the courses, take the courses, and then report on what you’ve learned, publicly becoming a referral for the person who taught the course or gave the speech.
- To grow your business
Professional growth is an important reason to join and participate in a networking group. Let’s be honest – most people join networking groups initially to grow their own business. But, you have to be careful. No one likes how a ‘used car salesman’ sounds. You don’t want to turn off your networking groups by being a sales person.
You don’t want to go in blazing and selling. Instead, build relationships and over time your business will just naturally grow due to the connections that you make. People will refer you, and you’ll refer them. It will come about rather organically if you do what you’re supposed to do and build relationships.
- To achieve expert status
Another reason to join and participate in networking groups is to elevate your own status to that of expert. You want to be the person that people come to for advice. You can improve your status by volunteering for leadership positions within the group and volunteering to organize events, as well as speak and teach lessons as needed about the things you know about.
Networking is all about building relationships, so use these networking tips to create relationships that will be meaningful for everyone involved.