Networking: the key to building your brand

Networking is a powerful tool when it comes to pivoting your business. It can help you get the word out about your products or services without spending any money on marketing. In addition, you never know whom you will meet at networking events, and networking helps keep in touch with old friends and colleagues. In this article, we’ll cover the importance of networking and some tips on improving your networking skills.

So What is Networking?

Networking involves building relationships and networking with people who can help you achieve your goals. This includes other professionals in your industry and those in related industries. Networking often includes mentors and partners as well. Stefan Cordova, CEO of FriendWithA.com, shares how networking with a mentor can improve your business. “Mentors are someone you can turn to for advice, so in that respect, they’ve changed my business because they’ve offered approaches and ideas to me in business I wouldn’t have used otherwise.”

Why is Networking Important?

It is vital because it allows you to find more opportunities for growth by reaching potential clients or customers who didn’t know that they needed your product or service. This also means networking can be a very effective tool for lead generation. Shel Horowitz of Frugal Marketing explains how networking brought in a steady flow of new clients. “I’ve actually been networking successfully online long before Zoom or even Skype existed — since I joined the first of many online discussion groups where I participated regularly, back in 1995. For about ten years, online discussion groups were my biggest source of new clients (partly because of some specific strategies I used to encourage people I did business with to report their positive experience to the whole list).”

Not to mention, networking can get you in touch with professionals who may join your company and help it continue to grow. According to Jon Harris, co-founder of BuzzIt, that’s exactly how they found one of their key team members, a UX designer. “This is exactly how our company got all of our first clients. We were looking to work with event managers, so this was the best way. We’d always stay late and help them stack chairs, so it was very easy to get a conversation started. In addition to our first clients, we met one of our key team members at one of these events.”

How Can Networking Help Pivot Your Business?

In several ways. First, networking enables you to get the word out about your product or services and find new customers without solely depending on marketing that may not reach enough people regardless. This means networking is very cost-effective as well as efficient for lead generation. Secondly, networking can help you build relationships with people who introduce your business to new resources, such as investors and partners.

Tips on How to Improve Your Networking Skills

A few tips can help you hone your networking skills and start reaping the many benefits we’ve mentioned above.

Jon Harris mentions that you should “try to interact with them during the event AND GET CONTACT INFO, follow up, follow up, follow up. That’s it. Oh, and you have to take an interest in them and their needs. It’s much like dating. If it’s all about you, it’s going nowhere.”

Stefan Cordova says that body language is a significant part of networking in person. “Learning to read others’ body language is a huge skill when it comes to networking. If you are in a conversation and notice someone leaning out or seems to be wanting out of a conversation, give them an easy way to exit the conversation. Alternatively, if you are in conversation with someone, be present, completely focused on that conversation, and give the person/people nonverbal cues to show you are engaged, for example, a nod of the head, smiles, and/or eyebrow raises.”

Denise Thomas, a TedX speaker and coach to parents of college-bound teens, gives a tip on networking about presenting yourself honestly. “Don’t lie! One of my best partners is a certified financial planner. Don’t sell yourself as a CFP if you sell insurance.” So, honesty will allow you to make genuine connections without landing yourself or your company in a situation where you cannot perform.

Now that you’ve learned the basics of networking, why it’s important, and some tips from other professionals out there, it’s time to start growing your network! If you’re interested in learning more about networking or growing your business, you can check out my website!

Want to learn more marketing tips, check out my podcast Coffee N.5 or follow me on Instagram: @laraschmoisman