Published 04 August 2016 Category: Compass Tips

Three Networking Tips To Boost Your Business

If you’re a small enterprise, there are few techniques as effective – or as cost-effective – at building your business as networking. But any business development takes time, and with the swathes of online and offline networking options, which should you focus on to get the best out of your time investment? We take a look at three simple ways to get started on accelerating your business through the power of networking.

Choose Your Targets

Before you begin, aim to focus on exactly what you are aiming to achieve through networking? Do you want to meet those in similar businesses to share skills? Or are you looking to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs in different industries to cross-reference your knowledge? Perhaps you’re aiming to identify potential clients? By carefully considering your networking aims, you can then start to move forward towards identifying where to find the right people.

That said, few people will respond positively to your approach if they feel that they are being “cold-called”. In your opening introduction, try to focus on where you have common ground, for example, mutual friends or former colleagues, a shared university or sports team or a shared professional specialism. Aim to make yourself relevant to the people that you’re hoping to contact and they will be more inclined to take time out of their busy day to connect with you.

Real Life Or Virtual Reality?

These days, much of the most effective business networking takes place, not on the golf course, as in the past, but right there on your computer screen. Specialist online sites such as LinkedIn are now considered a must-join for professionals across all sectors, offering members the chance to connect and interact with others in their industry across the globe. Don’t forget to consider local or industry-specific business networking too, which is often hosted via Facebook groups or online seminars; all of these are helpful tools in building your network from the comfort of your own desk.

That’s not to say that good old-fashioned face time should be ignored. Enduring relationships are usually cemented in person so consider attending conferences, seminars and workshops to meet people from your sector and others aligned to it. Last but not least, informal events are also a great way to make new contacts, associates and friends in a relaxed and fun environment. Look for charity balls, sports clubs, drink events and dinners as a way to soft-market your business and fill up that contacts book.

Reciprocate

Remember, networking should always be a two-way street. Your aim is not just to build your own business, but to become a valued supporter of other businesses too. If you can volunteer a little of your time to chat with those who might benefit from your experience, you’ll not only improve their prospects, but you’ll also gain valuable exposure and goodwill. The next time you’re in need of assistance, that person will be happy to support you in return, and so the virtuous cycle of networking continues.