The Power of Professional Networking
Professional Networking (or just networking in general) is a great way to expand a small business. If you're starting out in your business...or farther along...networking is still a great thing to do.
WHAT IS NETWORKING?
Networking is basically connecting with people that you wouldn't normally meet in your daily life. There are apps to help connect people, there are groups on Facebook, and lots of other avenues.
THE MAGIC OF NETWORKING
The beauty of networking, is that unless you're networking inside a really specific area (like a tech group on Facebook), then you have no idea who you'll meet. You may meet a plumber, or a realtor, or a fitness coach, or a photographer. You might meet a VP of a tech company, or a well-off financial advisor. You might meet someone who is actually looking for just what you offer (and vice versa). You get a chance to meet an incredibly wide range of people.
WHAT HAPPENS OFTEN
Some of these people won't "stick" with you. You'll meet them, you might exchange info, and never hear from them. And that's ok. It happens. It's almost guaranteed to happen. You can't win everyone.
WHEN IT PAYS OFF
Why you should consider networking more often however, is when you find people that you really connect with...the people that you make a "relationship" with, these are the ones that are truly valuable.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU'LL MEET
Say you meet someone, and you hit it off almost instantly. You exchange info, talk more outside of the event/group/etc. They end up referring you to someone else who is more helpful for what you're doing. That first connection might not have been exactly what you were looking for, but if you hadn't made that first connection, the second one would have never happened.
HOW I STARTED
Around 5-6 months ago, I was driving around in Cary, looking to connect with people that might either be interested in my products, or would connect me with people who were (I was networking without even knowing it). I happened upon a jeweler in a shopping center, who told me about a massive networking group on an app called Meetup. This group also had a page on Facebook, which really drew my interest, as I do a lot on Facebook. I quickly requested to join the group, and eventually went to an event. I was hooked. The influence of the group, the sheer range of people, and the incredible scope of what could be, was astounding. It set into motion a networking fire which has yet to abate, and probably will keep burning for a very long time. I have been to several other events, been to other groups, met more people. The scope of it all can be daunting sometimes. And to think...if I had not stopped by that jeweler (who wasn't interested in my products), who knows if I would be where I am now.
THE LONG HAUL
Networking is about the long game.
People say "it's not what you know, it's who you know"...and that's partially right. You still need a good knowledge base to fall back on, but business connections are worth their weight in gold. It takes time to build a solid network, don't expect it to happen overnight. It won't.
WORD OF MOUTH. THE MOST POWERFUL ADVERTISEMENT EVER
Once you do have that base built (and you nurture it), it will reward you tenfold. Word of mouth takes a while to "take", but when it does....look out. It's one of the most powerful forms of advertising.
GO DO IT!
If you provide a quality product, at a reasonable price, and conduct yourself with class, then the success will come. Be your own advocate, get out there...and network!