Did you know that 80% of professionals believe that your career success can be elevated through professional networking? There's clearly some truth to the old saying, "it's not what you know, but who you know", and that's not just applicable to office workers.
When you own a small business, networking is key to getting the word out and attracting more customers. But, it can be tricky to know where to begin. With so many events and networking opportunities available at any given time, how can you be sure that you're using your time effectively?
Here are some actionable business networking tips and different ways you can connect with relevant people in your field. Finally, GRENKE will share their profile pitch, to see if you wish to connect with us!
Small Business Networking: How to Get Started
1. Be Self-Aware
Before you start putting yourself out there, it's crucial to consider what type of events would be most suitable for you and your business. Although business networking will require you to step outside your comfort zone somewhat, it's no good forcing yourself into situations where you won't be able to perform at your best.
There are many different types of networking that you may wish to get involved in, including:
- Trade shows
- Corporate events
- Roundtable discussions
- Speed networking events
- Webinars and workshops
- Social media groups
Take some time to think about which environments you'll thrive in and start small. Remember, networking does not have to be formal — you could even meet up with a fellow business owner one-on-one at a local cafe. Then, once you've gained enough confidence and connections, you can begin broadening your horizons.
2. Set Yourself Clear, Achievable Goals
Once you've chosen an event to attend — either in person or virtually — you should list out your expectations and goals. For example, perhaps you want to meet four Data Analysts at a technology-focused convention. That way, you can be sure that you're making the most of your time and have a measure of how successful each event is.
Eventually, you'll learn which events are most worthwhile and provide you with the best results, meaning you should have a better idea about what to attend in the future.
3. Ensure You Always Have Something to Offer
Sometimes, when you attend networking events, you may find that others have nothing relevant to offer you. However, if you always come prepared, there's a chance you can provide other attendees with a solution to their problems. By ensuring that you're armed with something useful, you'll increase the likelihood that you'll make a meaningful connection (and potentially a new client).
Better still, those new connections can potentially introduce you to other people in their networks who can help you and expand your network in the process. Or, maybe they know another person who could use your services and refer your company, which is great news for small business owners as referrals are proven to have 30% higher conversion rates than leads generated via other marketing channels.
Content Creation: The Alternative to Networking Events
What works for one person might not work for another. And the same can be said for networking events — maybe social gatherings aren't your thing, or perhaps you simply don't have the time amongst the other responsibilities of being a business owner. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative ways to connect with like-minded people.
1. Become a Thought Leader
Two-thirds (66%) of marketers consider thought leadership a 'top priority' within their strategies because of its ability to build brand awareness and generate leads. But, for thought leadership to succeed, you must position yourself as an expert in your field and cut the fluff. People will want to connect with a thought leader who:
- Is educational
- Drives action
- Says something new
- Leverages data to back up their points
- Provokes discussions
If you choose the content creation route over attending events, it's a good idea to put a strategy in place and plan out what you want to say. Consistency is an essential part of building your brand as a thought leader. Over time, people will want to connect with you as a result of your high-quality content and opinions on your industry.
2. Harness the Power of Social Media
Much like in-person networking, social media is a two-way channel and gives you the chance to build rapport with other people in your industry. Aside from forging solid relationships with prospective customers, a strong social media presence also enhances the authenticity of your brand, which is a vital factor for 86% of people when deciding what companies to support.
Post on your social media channels in the same manner you would talk to others at a networking event, and you'll soon find people who are drawn to your personality and ethos. From there, you can prompt conversations and unlock other opportunities to expand your reach further than ever before.
Networking is a Path to Success
Regardless of your networking preferences, small business owners in today's economically turbulent world can't afford to ignore the influence professional connections can have on growth. In fact, people who allotted 6.3 hours per week to networking activities said that it played a crucial role in their success.
Therefore, to achieve business growth in the year ahead, you must spend some time building your personal brand and connecting with relevant people in your industry.
Achieve Business Growth with GRENKE
Fancy practising your networking skills?
Talk to a member of the GRENKE team today about our small business equipment finance and cash flow solutions.
The right person at our organisation can ensure you have the best finance to secure your business growth and help aid your sales teams to ppower through those 2022 targets.
GRENKE hold networking events at our Headquarters throughout the year. Keep an eye on our Events in 2022.