The Importance of Networking for Entrepreneurs

Categories: Advice for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are often told that it’s “not about what you know, but who you know.” And while the phrase itself might come off as slightly questionable, your contacts and connections can significantly impact the success of your business.

Here is why networking is of vital importance for entrepreneurs.

It Builds Valuable Relationships

Without a doubt one of the key benefits of networking is the relationships you can build. By joining thriving entrepreneurship communities, you can meet all kinds of interesting, inspirational and well-connected individuals.

They can further introduce you to members of their circle, and your network can just keep growing. And the more people you know who are trying to build up their own business, the easier your own journey will be.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely and difficult road. Most of your friends won’t understand its unique challenges, and you may struggle to explain the hurdles you are trying to overcome.
Having several insightful fellow entrepreneurs in your corner can help you solve problems faster and reduce the amount of stress you face every day.

It Opens Up New Opportunities

The benefit of networking that most people mention is the opportunity to generate new business. This most often involves the purposeful marketing of your brand at an event or in an online group.

The key to networking with a conversion purpose is not to make it sound like a sales pitch. People are usually tired of others trying to sell them something – unless it’s something they specifically need or are interested in.

In order to network effectively, come prepared. Have several conversation openers ready, and start chatting casually. Know how to create an opening that will steer the conversation in the direction you want it to go. If someone isn’t interested, don’t push it.

Actively listen to people and use the information you’ve learned to tailor your approach. Ask insightful questions and share advice and experience when possible.

It Increases Brand Awareness

Networking is also a great way to increase overall brand awareness, among a group of people who are interested in your product or service. This does not mean you will convert all of them. It can however lead to a lot of recommendations and referrals.

When talking to people, make sure they know what you do and who your target audience is. Hand out cards that take people to your website. Even if they don’t need your services now, there is a high chance they will remember you when they do.

Experienced entrepreneurs will also send business your way from their own network. They will recommend you to their friends or clients, and you can get a lot of valuable business through this organic form of word-of-mouth marketing.

Networking is also a great way to find new employees or business partners. The more people you know, the higher the chances someone knows someone who is just the right fit for your goals.

It Uncovers New Knowledge and Perspectives

You can also use networking to expand your knowledge, both about your specific line of work and about running a business in general.

Chances are your fellow entrepreneurs have already faced some of the challenges you are now facing. And while you can certainly use the internet to learn more about the best ways to handle them, learning from someone’s personal experience will always be more valuable.

Swap stories and troubles with people in your networking you admire the most or whom you click with the best. Don’t be afraid to offer your own advice and share your perspective. A lot of great ideas are often born from casual conversations between like minded individuals.

Note that you will also hear opinions and advice that you don’t necessarily agree with. You don’t have to do what someone else says, but it’s always worth listening to a different take on a situation.

It Provides Valuable Support

Finally, if you build a reliable, honest network of fellow entrepreneurs, some of whom you can even come to call friends, they can provide invaluable personal and professional support.

If you are ever stuck and don’t know how to do something, if you are not sure whether or not a certain law pertains to you or how to get access to specific information, someone in your circle will usually be able to help.

Your network can also introduce you to the people you are aiming to meet, listen to you rant about the state of the economy and business in general, and provide a sympathetic ear when you need it the most.

Wrapping Up

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when trying to network. Don’t focus on closing a certain number of deals or meeting a certain number of people with specific titles. Take it one step at a time, be yourself, and never forget that you won’t click with everyone you meet.

Sarah Kaminski