Speak to most successful business owners, and they’ll tell you that they only got to where they are today because of “who they know.” While a lot of the work involved with being an entrepreneur comes from you, your passion, and your ideas, it’s fair to say that we can all benefit from some extra help along the way. A strong professional network can help ambitious business leaders to accomplish things that they would never have been capable of on their own.
Whether you’re handing out business cards at an industry event or taking part in a social media group, networking is one of the most valuable things that you can do as a budding entrepreneur. In fact, according to research released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, networking is more important than you can imagine.
Following our recent series of 7 Deadly Startup Sins posts, today we’re going to be looking at the benefits of networking, and why it’s so essential to create the right relationships when you’re growing your business.
Entrepreneurship is Lonelier than You’d Think
Often, when people consider the purpose of networking, they assume that the benefits are all connected to the new opportunities you can unlock when you know the right people. However, there are other advantages involved in networking, too – particularly when it comes to your personal life.
The experience of creating a company from scratch is a complicated one. Designing and launching a company is thrilling and nerve-wracking. It surrounds you with countless people that you work with every day, but it’s also incredibly lonely. Unfortunately, the isolation of being an entrepreneur isn’t something that most people prepare for. Generally, you assume that you’ll spend so much time with employees and clients that you’ll never be lonely again.
However, the truth is that the people you surround yourself with as a business leader don’t really know you, and they don’t have the time to get involved in deep conversations with you either. While maintaining good relationships with your friends and family can help you to avoid isolation, you still won’t get the benefits of a broad professional network that way. Sometimes, you’ll need to talk to someone who has been in a similar position as you and knows what you’re going through.
Committing to regular business networking can help you to achieve peace of mind by giving you people you can talk to about your ambitions, expectations, and concerns. Remember, psychology shows us that developing quality relationships – particularly in work settings – can help to encourage improved health and happiness.
Business Networking Opens You Up to New Opportunities
Having a range of strong business connections in place will help you to confront even the most stressful of situations with relative ease. Talking things out with the people who understand your position and where you’re at will make it easier to find solutions to your problems. However, there’s more to the benefits of networking than just strengthening your emotional resilience.
As mentioned above, the connections that you make as an entrepreneur can also yield some productive and compelling opportunities for growth too. Part of being an effective business owner is understanding how to open yourself up to new opportunities that can enrich your life, improve your company, and deliver new solutions to your employees and stakeholders. When you connect with people who already have leverage in your industry, they can help you to find new opportunities for sales and growth that you might not have discovered on your own.
Professional networks can also be very useful when it comes to hiring new skilled workers too. Just as job seekers frequently turn to their friends and social media networks to look for new opportunities, entrepreneurs can also reach out to their connections to find new people to bring onto their team.
In a similar vein, regular business networking also makes you more visible in your chosen industry. It can ensure that you get noticed by the right people at the best possible times, so you have a higher chance of attracting new clients and customers your way. Your presence and growing visibility are more likely to get you additional leads and referrals as your face and name pops up in front of fellow people in business.
There’s a reason why so many entrepreneurs are adamant that it’s “who” you know in the business world that matters more than “what” you know. From word of mouth marketing to connections with potential new employees, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that business networking can bring.
Benefitting from the Experience of Others
Ultimately, as an entrepreneur, there will be few things more valuable to you in the long-term than experience. No-one can know what’s going to happen when they launch their own business or startup. However, as you continue to move through life running your business, you’ll learn new things about how to survive in an often challenging world.
Many entrepreneurs share stories about the things that they wish that they had learned when they first started their business. While there are some things in life that you will need to discover for yourself, there are other things that you can learn just by interacting with the right people.
Regular business networking ensures that you can get advice and insights from people who have gone through a similar experience to you in the past. This could help you to avoid running into some hurdles that could derail your company and take you weeks or even months to overcome. Building a professional network before you even launch your company could be a great way to gather some advice from industry experts that you can use to guide you as you step into your new role as a leader.
Don’t Underestimate your Network
Ultimately, relationships are more important to us than we often think.
Both in life and in business, the connections that you make can often lead to new experiences, insights, and opportunities that deliver infinite value to you and your life. However, you need to be willing to seek out those connections and embrace them – particularly as an entrepreneur.
While it’s easy to get stuck thinking that business budgeting and planning are the most important things in running a new company, don’t forget to consider the value of networking too. The more time you devote to crucial connections, the better off you’ll be in the long-term.