Networking has always been an essential staple of good business. Everybody seems to know this. But why exactly is it so important? What are the specific benefits to small businesses, and how can small businesses achieve those benefits?
To answer those questions, we’ll be listing some of the core reasons that make networking so important. Specifically, we’ll be talking about how networking can help you:
- Find new audiences
- Meet industry experts
- Learn new skills
- Improve your reputation
After elaborating on these points, we’ll also mention some simple networking ideas to help you get started.
Find new audiences
This is probably the most obvious benefit. After all, reaching new audiences and potential customers is a high priority for any business.
Effective networking is a surefire way to make this happen, and it’s easier than ever with online platforms like social media.
For example, if you make a new business contact, you can collaborate with them across social media channels or mention each other on your respective websites. Suddenly you’ll have their entire audience’s eyes on your content and products.
Following on from our last point, combining your audiences is just the first step. If you nurture the relationship, you could even offer a bundle deal including both your products at a discount.
For example, an internet provider might offer a deal that includes a VPN from a different company.
That said, they don’t even have to be directly related products. O2 currently offers a 6 month Disney Plus subscription with their phone plans. It’s a great way for your business to stand out and offer extra value to customers. It might just be that little extra nudge that convinces customers that are still on the fence.
Find industry contacts
Networking isn’t just good for sales; you could meet plenty of contacts that’ll help with day-to-day operations.
You can speak to others in your industry to get insider information about all sorts of things. This could be as simple as finding a lesser-known insurance provider, advice on the best software to use, or something larger like significant legislative changes that’ll affect your industry.
The great part about this is that it usually doesn’t stop at one connection. Nurture your relationship with one new contact, and you’ll probably meet some of their contacts who, in turn, will have other contacts.
Pretty soon, that one new contact you made will blossom into an entirely new network of people in your industry.
Learn new skills
There’s always more to learn, and networking is the best way to meet people with different perspectives and ideas.
They say you don’t know what you don’t know. The only way to really get around this is to meet new people, have an open mind, and talk. You never really know what you’ll get from a conversation.
Ask sincere questions, and really listen to their answers. You can learn a lot from more experienced people or those who have had different journeys. Conversely, those who are less experienced could have fresh perspectives on the industry that have been overlooked.
Improve your reputation
Networking has a lot of immediate benefits, like the ones we’ve mentioned so far, but the long-term benefits are just as significant.
Meeting new people, building relationships, and nurturing those relationships, will improve your reputation and authority within the industry.
Given time, that reputation will allow you these benefits:
- Trust – others will trust you as an individual and as a brand, meaning they’ll be more likely to share information, contacts, and insider tips with you.
- Growth – If you’re ever looking to expand your business and you’re looking for investors, a solid reputation is an incredibly valuable asset. Investors don’t just consider a business’ profits; they also consider the people running the business.
- Opportunities – As your brand becomes known in the industry, others will begin to seek you out to collaborate on projects.
- Recommendations – A good reputation means people will recommend your business without any input from you whatsoever. They could recommend you to other business owners as a source of knowledge, potential investment, or collaboration opportunity. They might even recommend your business as a service to potential customers.
By now, you should be convinced of the benefits of networking, but how do you actually go about it?
Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
- Make online connections – Engage with other businesses on social media,
- Attend events and conferences – Sign up for newsletters and search online for local events and conferences.
- Join groups – Permanently join groups related to your industry.
- Volunteer – Sign up for a public charity event relevant to your business. Or better yet, organise one yourself.
- Collaborate with other businesses – Organise promotions and events to help expand both your networks.
- Follow up on new contacts – Don’t leave them hanging. Make the most of every new contact.
If you’d like to hear more about networking ideas and strategy, check out our article.
Manage your finances with Countingup
Successfully growing your network will lead to more income, which will inevitably lead to more complicated bookkeeping.
Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier.
Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are.
You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward!
Find out more here.