Business networking is a necessary survival skill in today's business climate.
Successful entrepreneurs rely on one another for support and referrals in industries where who you know is often just as important as what you do.
If you haven't done much networking yet, it's time to get started. Local business associations, industry groups, and tradeshows are great places to initiate contacts that can open doors to a variety of business networking benefits.
What are the benefits of networking? To our mind, these are the five most important benefits of business networking for entrepreneurs.
Business networking provides access to a pool of field-tested expertise. It's likely that another entrepreneur has the skills and experience to help you address whatever challenges you face. By creating a broad business network, you both widen and deepen your company's ability to overcome hurdles. Occasionally, you might even make contact with an older, more experienced entrepreneur who is willing to mentor you in a specific area of business.
Business networking also gives your company access to a pre-screened list of vendors and suppliers. Although you might not be able to convert your networking relationships into special discounts, a good network can usually tell you where to get the best products at the best prices.
#3 Leads & Referrals
Most entrepreneurs initially approach networking as a way to generate new leads and referrals. Although networking has a lot of other benefits, you can expect a fully-developed networking relationship to bring additional business to your door. But keep in mind that leads and referrals are a two-way street and your referrals will quickly dry up unless you are willing to reciprocate.
A well-executed networking strategy has the potential to create instant exposure for new business owners. Even though networking alone won't generate enough buzz to send customers flocking to your door, combined with other strategies it can significantly raise your profile in the industry and in the local business community. When it's appropriate, don't hesitate to ask networking contacts to introduce you to key players or industry legends.
#5 Industry Information
Your business network can be a great source of industry-related information. You can't possibly stay current on every piece of news or legislation that affects your company – but a good business network can. If you're careful keep your network relationships free of gossip and rumor, it's possible to use your network as a pipeline of vital information.