Networking can often be the key to the success of any business. For many new business owners, the prospect of networking can seem scary; particularly if it is your first time at a networking event.
Networking itself is a wide reaching term and covers a number of different areas, such as:
- Online business networking.
- Face-to-face business networking.
- Networked businesses.
- Business networking in the ICT domain.
It is important that we remember that at such events, we are representing our business at all times. Due to this, professionalism is hugely important. This is true both in terms of our own appearance as well as our business knowledge. Before attending such events, it is wise to consider the guest list and the itinerary for the day. In doing so, you can gain an accurate image of what and who to expect at the event.
As part of this research, it is worth considering the businesses of those who are attending. In particular, pay close attention to those whose businesses could align with yours (whether this is as a competitor or an ally). In doing this, you can manage your own time at the event, as you have begun targeting potential network allies. It is vital to remember that attending a network event is much more than time away from the office, it is an ideal chance to grow the business by forging new relationships!
Once there, make sure to speak to (or at least give a business card to) those who you think could be a potential business ally. Building a professional friendship with these people could help you and your business, particularly if they have overcome difficulties in some of the areas that your business is currently struggling.
Once you have begun forging these bonds at other events, it may become appropriate for you to set up your own. This will allow you to create stronger business relationships. When setting up such events, there are a number of things to consider, such as:
1) Guest list: Be sure of who you want to invite and why you want to invite them. Such events are invaluable tools, and you need to make sure that everyone there is going to add value to the event.
2) Venue: Select an appropriate venue. If it is a small event, then office space may be appropriate. But if not, consider hiring a conference facility.
3) Timescale: Consider how long you want your event to last. Everyone attending will be extremely busy running their own business. If the event lasts too long then they may feel they cannot spare the time. Contrastingly, if the event is too short, they may feel that it isn’t worth their time. As well as this, consider the timing of the event itself. If the event is held over lunch, then catering may be appropriate.
As has been shown, networking can be an invaluable tool for your business. Make sure you attend events as regularly as time allows and try to set up your own event. You never know, the knowledge you learn could be the key to your business success.