In today’s technology driven digital world global expansions are on the rise and the old saying “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” cannot me more true. As companies seek out new markets and buyers that were virtually inaccessible a decade ago, networking is identified as a key factor in business success.
Although the internet is a great way to reach out to potential clients, it’s not as effective as face time; an in-person, face to face meeting. There are some skeptics who still rely on their expertise, education, or credentials to get by in the corporate world but they are few and far between. Networking is now the best way to get clients and keep business. Networking isn’t always easy and does require an investment of both time and money but it is an investment that will pay off.
Here are 7 reasons why you should network :
1. Word of mouth recommendations
Networking is a great way to spread the word about your business or the services offered by your employer. Interacting with people in person helps build a rapport and a level of trust which will in turn make others more comfortable when recommending you to their friends. When you can identify with others they will also be more likely to remember you and recommend you to their friends or peers.
Working is a continuous learning experience and it’s always helpful to have a mentor to guide you along your corporate journey. Networking events are a great place to meet potential mentors that can provide you with helpful insight and ideas. If you are a veteran in your field networking can help you connect with potential mentees and share your expertise with young professionals.
3. Gaining a better understanding of your market
Understanding your market is extremely important when selling goods or services. Networking gives you access to a wide range of individuals and opinions. You can use these opinions to your advantage by examining how they react to the products or services you offer and how much demand there is for your product. By expanding your network you will have access to more people and be able to identify those individuals who fit in to your niche market.
4. New Employment Leads
If you are a job seeker you can network your way to your next job. Networking is now the primary way of finding a job. People are more likely to hire or recommend someone they know rather than someone they don’t. Networking and letting your contacts know you are looking for a job is the first step to starting your job hunt. Your contacts will then be able to recommend you to their network and keep you in mind for any upcoming vacancies. Make sure you highlight your skills and specialties so the referrals you get will be relevant.
5. Explore a new career
Effective networking gives you access to contacts from varying fields and work environments. This is especially useful if you are looking to change careers. Reaching out to your network to learn about different options and fields of work will help you seek out new career interests. Networking is also a valuable tool for new grads starting their careers. We advise graduates to actively seek out contacts who are already employed in the positions they are interested in and get a first hand account of what the job really entails.
6. Increase or drive sales
Increasing your network and meeting new contacts can help you increase your reach when promoting materials or products. More people reached means more potential clients. Networking is often used to drive sales. More effective than cold calling, networking allows you to actually meet your potential clients prior to approaching them with an ask for a sale or an endorsement. It’s usually easier to call someone you’ve met before and explain how you met them etc. rather than calling a stranger and making small talk before getting to your pitch.
7. Building brand familiarity and notoriety
Attending networking events puts a face to the name of your business. Building brand familiarity is something business owners and associates must keep in mind when seeking out new clients. The larger your network the larger your reach! You want people to be able to identify you and only you with a particular service, not your competitors. It’s important for entrepreneurs and professionals to be aggressive in networking, this means expanding your network and getting your name out there.
For more tips on networking check out my book Cocktails & Conversations