Networking for business isn’t just about acquiring new clients; it is also about surrounding yourself with a support network for life in general. You can never have too many contacts!
Running a business can be isolating and stressful but through networking you learn so much about different businesses, the going-ons within the business community and have the opportunity to share your experiences.
In fact close friendships can be built through networking. So who should you be networking with?
From a business development perspective, it is a good idea to network with potential clients. You should attend networking events in which you are likely to meet them.
Depending on the industry you operate in, this can include professional associations, chambers of commerce, industry conferences, meetups and the like. Follow-up is the key to winning at networking; ensure this is done within 24 hours when they are more likely to remember details about your conversation.
For example, if your target market is small businesses then participate in networking events for small business owners. Sometimes your local chamber of commerce will run these events.
It is a good idea to belong to your industry network, such as one run by the professional association to which you belong, because it is important to build relationships with those who work in your field.
Building professional relationships with others in your industry can help attract prospective clients through referrals and partnerships. By communicating and engaging with these people you can gain practical advice and inspiration to achieve your own goals.
From a career perspective, networking is more about developing your current career and broadening your horizons so talk to business people who have been in your position and who can offer advice.
This has been the biggest growth area in networking over the past five years. Women often network differently than men as they tend to be more relationship driven which suits their communication style.
Catriona is offering WOMAN readers a copy of her guide, Personal Branding Secret Weapon: Networking Resource Guide, for FREE! Download it now.
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com.