Whether you are in sales, own a new small business or have been operating a business for years, networking with other businesses and business owners is a key to success. Some business professionals call it strategic networking while others call it social networking, either way, networking with other business owners is a sure way to climb the professional ladder in any industry.
Author Harvey MacKay puts it this way, “If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I would say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.”
Networking with other businesses and business owners is a wise decision for several reasons. First and foremost, it is usually a low-cost way to market and advertise your business and services. Secondly, networking with other business owners can allow you to maximize your resources. Additionally, not only can strategic networking among other business owners help you market yourself and your business but it can allow you to find potential business partners.
The value of your networking is priceless when you have a “Givers Gain” attitude. The key is to intentionally work to develop your network of resources, connections, customers and word-of-mouth partners. Be sure to keep an updated Rolodex or more commonly known as a database on those you meet.
It’s widely accepted that word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind. It is free, fast, and reliable. Usually word of mouth advertising comes from happy customers wanting to share their good experience. When you network with other business owners about your business, they will have the chance to meet you and get to know all about your business products or services. Whether or not that particular person is interested in your services is irrelevant, he or she may know someone who is. Networking allows you to get the word out about your business for no cost or very little cost.
When you network with other business owners you are also opening up the possibility of maximizing or increasing your resources. This does not necessarily have to be a monetary resource or new clients but can include new vendors and contractors as well. For example, as you network and discuss your business services, you may find yourself talking to the manager of a business that can complement your product line. Networking can prove to be a truly rewarding endeavor resulting in many symbiotic professional relationships.
Strategic networking allows for business owners to meet their direct competitors face to face in many cases. Additionally, networking allows for business owners to meet other business owners who are in the same field, but may not be direct competitors. This allows direct competitors to get an edge on each other and keep business fresh. Competition is key to strong businesses it keeps the creative juices flowing for the best products and services possible. Networking also allows for business owners who are in the same industry but not directly competing to meet and possibly engage in new partnerships. Many times partnering with a competitor can be a real advantage to boost both businesses. Most assuredly there are things you offer that your competitor doesn’t and vise versa.
Networking among business owners is one of the most effective ways to build a successful business. Many business owners continue to network even after their initial start-up years. Continued networking throughout all stages of business allows for new professional relationships and opens the doors of possibility of new clients, new resources, and new partners.
Harvey MacKay sums it up, “My father, Jack Mackay, who for 35 years led the Associated Press in St. Paul, shared his secret (networking) with me when I was 18. He said, “Harvey, every single person you meet the rest of your life should go in your Rolodex file. Write a little bit about that person on the bottom or the back of the card. And now, here’s the key — find a creative way to keep in touch.”
If increasing your network isn’t on your list of goals to achieve in 2018… you can add it now!
Jack Klemeyer is a member of Achievers Network in Brownsburg, a part of the BNI Central-Indiana Regional Team and a Certified John Maxwell Coach, Speaker and Trainer helping business owners and leaders who are so busy helping others they don’t always take the time to work on their business. Jack always appreciates referrals!