While networking is a critical piece of the human experience, understanding why it’s important to you will help you benefit personally and professionally. Growing your best business by developing your networking skills is vital as well.
Networking allows you to build connections with other people when you normally wouldn’t have a reason to know them. You are able to go out of your comfort zone and meet people and grow your business.
For example, real estate agents rely on networking to grow their business. Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions that a person will make in their lifetime. Would you rather buy a house from John Smith on the internet that you know nothing about, or would you rather buy from Stacy Ray that you met at several open houses? Because Stacy took the time to step out of her comfort zone and attend those open houses and stayed in contact with you, she has now set herself up to become your first choice when deciding between two real estate agents. Not only does reaching out and building a network benefit your business, it allows you to grow as a person and become more comfortable in a myriad of situations.
Think about your group of friends… How did you all meet each other?
Chances are that you had a couple friends (We will use Jane and Mandy for the sake of argument) that you knew from work or school or some other activity. The next time you all got together, you brought a friend, Jane brought a friend, and Mandy brought a friend. The size of your group of friends just doubled.
Now imagine that your business works that same way.
You have three customers that are very impressed with your services, so they each refer one of their friends to you (which happens all the time). If all three of those friends become your customers, your client base has just doubled.
Building a network is like building a web that continues to branch out farther and farther when more and more people are involved. If you have twenty satisfied customers reaching out to their friends and family, there are more possibilities for you to gain more potential customers.
Growing your network is directly linked to growing your business. Taking the time to build a positive reputation and have satisfied customers (even if it is only just 3 or 4 to begin with) is essential. Reaching out to people and growing your business through networking allows you to put your name and reputation out there in an unbiased way. Basically, let your network speak for you!
While your product/service is phenomenal and you are honest and are sincere about everything you say, someone sharing their story about their experience with your business will outweigh what you advertise and tell people about your product/service. Word of mouth is a lot more powerful than people give it credit for.
Feedback is very important to a business in knowing what needs to be changed or left alone. Building a network around your business allows you to meet other people who are running a business (whether it is the same product/service as yours or not), potential customers, more referral sources, and people who have experience in your particular area that can benefit your business. Use other people’s ideas! After all, two heads (or many heads in this case) are better than one!
What’s your most impactful networking story? Did you get a great client or a chance to make a major impact because you stepped out and showcased yourself, even though it might have been outside of your comfort zone? Tell me about it – I’d love to hear your comments below!