Starting a new business can be very overwhelming, which is why it’s important to build a strong network.
When I’m talking about building a network for your business, I mean forming new professional relationships.
There are a lot of challenges that come with building a new business (especially for an entrepreneur) which is why I thought today would be a great day to share a few tips about networking.
There are many benefits to building a network for your business, big or small. Networking can help boost your business reach, increase your revenue and raise brand identity.
We know networking is beneficial, but we also need to know how to do it right — believe me, there’s a bad way to network too. Let’s get into it:
1. Connect with your local community.
A mistake I sometimes see inexperienced entrepreneurs making is not taking the time to research businesses in their area. So for example, if you want to start a business selling lemonade, it would be wise to first check if there are any other lemonade businesses in your area.
Now I know how this might look, but it’s not entirely bad news if someone else has used a similar idea. If you have a passion for making lemonade, you can take the time to observe how this other business carries itself. You can even go as far as contacting them and asking them a few questions about any challenges they’ve faced or if they have any advice.
The important thing here is professional integrity. Every step you take will reflect directly on your business. Your fellow lemonade maker does not need to be your bitter rival; you can instead find ways to collaborate on future events in a way that benefits you both.
This lays the foundation to build a healthy professional relationship.
And please don’t be discouraged if they’re not friendly — few people in business are. This is why I always say if you find a good partner, you should value them and not take them for granted.
2. Be active online
Network in real life but don’t forget to network online as well. It’s the next best step after reaching out to any businesses in your local area. Join online business forums on sites like Facebook or Reddit to gain insights from other entrepreneurs.
When someone in those same forums asks a question you have answers to, be sure to help and participate healthily. Like I said before, every action you take will directly reflect back onto your business ladies. Through these interactions, you might build authentic business relationships or in the best case scenario reliable friends.
The more you participate, the more you’ll be noticed, and the more you’re noticed the more people may try to reach out and form collaborations. It also helps to be friendly in those forums in case you also need help or advice with something; you will find yourself being rewarded for your goodwill.
Before you know it, you’ll be exchanging business contacts with people. And because you would’ve been awesome other people might refer you to their friends or business contacts who might help you directly. There’s a world of possibility online, don’t let it fly by.
3. Strike up a conversation
It can be a family gathering, at a club or even in a formal setting. Find an organic way to bring up your ideas or business plans.
Remember, it should come out naturally. You don’t want people around you to get fed up with hearing about your business ideas all the time.
If you’re chatting to a stranger on a plane, for example, listen to what they have to say and when you get your chance, bring up any business ideas you have cooking. You never know where it might lead. Perhaps they might know someone interested in partnering up with someone that has your skills!
Opportunities to network are everywhere, but remember to keep them original and organic.
4. Make sure your business has an online platform.
Having an online site where you can manage your business and keep in touch with customers and other businesses is always a good idea. Think about it, a majority of people are either on their phones or their computers. The more you engage with people on your platform, the more they’ll likely refer you to their friends and so on.
Not to mention, it’s easier to network when you have an established site. People can just look for it and find it (if you have business cards don’t forget to put your site address).
If people like what you have to offer — and I’m sure they will — they’ll share links to your site and that might lead to new professional relationships.
5. Be authentic
This is probably the most important tip, It doesn’t matter how good-looking your site is or how amazing your products are if you can’t be authentic.
You have to be real; to be consistent.
No one wants to form a partnership with someone who pretends to be something they’re not. It’s the same for us, right ladies? We wouldn’t trust someone who is friendly to our faces but stabs us as soon as we turn our backs.
Professional relationships (or relationships in general) are built on trust, and that trust is easy to lose.
If you enjoyed this post consider reading the 3 Beliefs You Must Own To Find Success.