The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.
The Importance of Networking
Published on Sep 12, 2013
Read 'The Importance of Networking' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Every entrepreneur knows the importance of networking. Defined as “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business” by the good people at Merriam-Webster, networking can be the key to successfully incorporating your business and sustaining it over the long term. But, many business owners struggle with how and where to find those relationships. The resources can be overwhelming – a search for networking books on Amazon yields more than 50,000 results – and it can be easy to shelve it all as a low priority with the other needs of your fledgling business clamoring for your attention. So, what are some basic, easy steps you can take to build a network of contacts and start your business the right way?
For starters, check your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of upcoming events around town to attend, participate in, or sponsor. Look for events that align with your personal interests, as well as those that could be in sync with your start-up. Community participation will help drive brand awareness and make connections with local audiences, whether they are banks or investors attending a key sporting event or a potential client at a fundraising affair. Local involvement could also open mutually beneficial doors with other businesses in the area or lead to more introductions that grow into new opportunities.
Second, don’t stop networking on your down time. Starting a new company formation is a 24-hour a day, seven days a week job. You never know who you might meet through a friend of a friend at another mutual friend’s Labor Day barbeque. Always be prepared to make a connection that would benefit your business, and don’t be afraid to follow up with that person after the social outing. Additionally, be sure to have business cards on you at all times for a simple way to exchange information.
Finally, use social media to build a greater network. Follow and engage with potential contacts on Twitter to help build a relationship. Encourage visitors to “Share” your Facebook page with their networks. Add new contacts to your professional network on LinkedIn and consider including a personalized message within your invites. This will help those contacts recognize your name and could lead to further conversations right off the bat – rather than a simple “acceptance” with no follow on action.
Don’t let the idea of networking overwhelm you. There is no “right” way to go about it; what works for one entrepreneur might not for another. Hopefully, at least one of these tips will help you get started!