Developing your Network
One of the biggest benefits of networking is the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences.
Because sometimes it really is who you know
One big advantage every large company has is its employees. They represent an extensive knowledge base the company can draw on any time. But there is a way your small business can enjoy many of those same advantages. It’s called networking.
The power of connections
Networking offers a number of benefits. A network of contacts can offer you:
- A potential market for your product or service
- A referral service to new customers
- A source of specialized, valuable expertise
- A way to benefit from others’ experience
Start with who you know
If the business you’re starting isn’t radically different from what you did before, there may be people at your last company whose opinions and advice you respect. You may find that your services prove useful to them; they may even recommend you to other people they know.
Uncover expert advice
Sure, you know your core business inside out. But what about all the other things you have to take care of? Accounting… computer maintenance… coffee supplies. Do you know where to start when it comes to sourcing them?
When you have a network of contacts, you have a dependable source of sound advice you can turn to whenever you need it. In time, you’ll be better equipped to handle these tasks for yourself, but at the beginning it makes sense to draw on outside help.
Learn from what other people have done
One of the biggest benefits of networking is the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences. It’s a lot easier to find out what does and doesn’t work by talking to people who have “been there, done that” than by making those same mistakes yourself.
Grow your network
One way to build your business over time is to build your network:
- Attend networking events such as trade shows, conferences and association meetings.
- Join networking groups that meet (in person or online) to share experiences and insights.
Remember too, quality is always more valuable than quantity. Concentrate your efforts on people who can help you – and whom you can help in return. It’s not about passing out business cards and getting your name in front of as many people as possible; it’s about building relationships that will benefit everyone over the long term.