Networking is about cultivating relationships that can lead to collaborations, opportunities, and gr...
Success is mostly determined not only by what you know but also by who you know. Networking is an important skill that helps individuals and businesses thrive. It is about building meaningful connections and relationships that can drive personal and business growth.
Come with me let's explore how we can leverage networking for business growth.
Understand the Power of Networking
I see the energy people give during networking events, it almost looks like it is an undeclared war on who gets the highest number of business cards. Networking is more than just exchanging business cards at events. It's about cultivating relationships that can lead to collaborations, opportunities, and growth. Recognize the power of networking and how it can expand your horizons and open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
How you follow up on the contacts you got during networking is very very important.
Identify Your Goals
Most times it becomes hard to truly connect with the new networks you have after an event, due to lack of objectives. Before diving into networking, it's important to identify your goals. What do you hope to achieve through networking? Is it finding new customers, partners, or mentors? Understanding your objectives will help you tailor your networking efforts.
Attend the Right Events
Not all networking events are created equal. Choose events that align with your goals and target audience.
I can remember a friend of mine who registered for a creatives networking event only to get there and find out the creatives there were all entertainment creatives and not tech creatives as he had expected. Always ensure that the networking event you are going for is the right one for you, whether it’s industry-specific conferences, business meet-ups or even online webinars make sure the event you attend provides opportunities to connect with the right people.
Make a Great First Impression
Before you even think of networking, prepare your mind, and your energy because first impressions matter. You may even want to do some research about the hosting organization so that you can find what starts a conversation with other guests. Smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm handshake. Be yourself, and don't try to be someone you're not. Authenticity builds trust, and people are more likely to connect with those they can relate to on a personal level. These small details leave a lasting impression.
Don’t just do all the talking; also listen. Actively engage in conversations, ask questions, and show interest in others. People appreciate good listeners, and it can lead to more meaningful connections.
Follow-up is important after attending networking events, just as following up with the people you met. Send a message across, and mention something from your conversation to show that you listened to them and were genuinely interested.
Also, remember that successful networking is a two-way street, don't just focus on what you can gain but also on what you can offer. Share your knowledge, provide assistance, or connect people within your network. I personally think connecting people within your network is a great way to build stronger relationships as a business owner. One of my friends who is a small business owner has this program he does every Sunday that she calls Contact Gaining Sunday where she connects all the business owners in her contact to each other. I've watched her do this for a while and honestly, it has positioned her as a thoughtful leader.
Finally, be persistent. Networking takes time and persistence. Don't be discouraged by initial rejections or slow progress. For most people, networking events are basically assessing the new connections they made. They just want to take their time to know the ones that are relevant to them and the ones to cut out. Building relationships is an ongoing process, and the effort you invest will pay off in the long run.
If you are a business owner and you don't attend events, I will boldly tell you that you are not ambitious. Your business does not thrive in isolation. Go out there, whether it's a physical or virtual event, connect with other business owners and see how much growth your business can make from just expanding your network.
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