We’ve all heard the expression, “it’s not what you know but who you know” and in business truer words have never been spoken! Connecting with other like-minded people is an important part of your career, whether you are the CEO of your own company or an employee of another.
The benefits to networking are extremely valuable in so many ways; from the people you meet, to the new clients you’ll acquire, thanks to your ever-growing network, putting yourself out there to connect is an essential part of growing your business. And the bottom line is we all have the same goal, to advance in our respective fields.
I realized networking was important for my business when I began seeing that the referrals I was getting were the best source in acquiring new clients. And the only way to receive those referrals is to network.
Getting involved with and joining organizations that align with your goals is important for success. Within two weeks of joining a private women’s group, I received a referral which led to a new client; this connection might not have happened if I hadn’t become a member.
Networking is definitely a commitment of both your time and energy and for some, putting themselves out there in a room full of unfamiliar people is not always easy. But what better way to build your confidence than stepping outside of your comfort zone.
It’s also something that you must commit some of your free time to, although networking shouldn’t be looked upon as another task on your never ending to-do list. Approach it as you would your business, because essentially, it is a big part of it.
Keep an eye out for events hosted by the organizations you belong to. They usually take place after work, but if you manage your schedule and your time wisely, you’ll look forward to them.
Personally, I allot two/three “nights out” per week for networking, whether they are events, dinner, or drinks. Choosing the opportunities that align with your goals will ensure you don’t become burnt out.
As JMG PR continues to grow, I am grateful for the people I’ve met and the groups I’ve become a part of; without them, the success of my company might not be as strong as it is today.
Because I believe in the power of networking, and truly enjoy expanding my business circle, I wanted to share some of the reasons I believe connecting with others is an essential part of any successful professional.
Acquiring Referrals – Networking exposes you to a wide range of people. You know the phrase, “a friend of a friend?” In this case, that’s always a benefit to you and your business. The people you meet will also have a network you can tap in to and vice versa. Once you’ve established a connection with the referrals/leads you acquire, it’s time to turn them into clients. At the end of the day it’s all about helping one another connect with other professionals.
Creating Opportunities - In addition to gaining referrals and new clients, networking opens you up to additional opportunities such as partnerships, joint ventures, writing or speaking engagements, etc., all prospects for shining a light on your business and sharing the knowledge and insight you have garnered along the way.
Sharing advice - As you network, the circle of people you meet will allow you to connect with other professionals in your industry and utilize them as a resource when you need any sort of advice or guidance. In turn, you may be the same for someone else.
Increasing Your Profile - A big part of networking is being visible to others. A great way to do that is through joining organizations that align with your goals/vision. Regularly attend social events, speaking engagements, and any other functions of interest in order to become more visible amongst the crowd. The more events you attend, you’ll begin to see the same faces and potentially establish some new friendships.
Joining organizations - When considering joining a group, be selective. Look at certain aspects beforehand. I like to see who’s a part of the group, and if they aligned with my goals. You never know who you’re going to meet, what you can learn, or who may be able to help open doors to new and exciting opportunities.
In addition, you must budget for the group as they usually require a fee. The thought of paying to be a part of something might sound strange at first but trust me, the benefits will outweigh the cost. My first referral in one of the groups I belong to not only led to work, it wound up paying for my membership dues.
Building confidence - This is especially important for anyone who is a bit uncomfortable talking to someone they don’t know. The more you engage, the more comfortable you’ll become and your confidence will get stronger. Growing your business is dependent on making those connections.
Creating friendships - Not everyone you meet will produce an instant connection, or even a lasting relationship, but networking can lead to genuine friendships. When you’re surrounded by other individuals with the same goals and interests, it’s only natural to gravitate towards one another.
At the end of the day it all comes down to making big dreams happen, whatever those dreams look like for you. You now know a little bit of why I believe networking is a powerful business tool; I’d love to hear your thoughts on not only why you feel networking is important, but how it’s been instrumental in your career. Whether it’s through email, or a comment on social, I’d love to connect!