Networking. It’s long been a buzzword, and for good reason. Networking in business is the process of connecting and building relationships with others – whether they’re a mentor figure, working in your specific industry, a contractor for your type of business or professional who you look to for advice.
Use People You Already Know
Chances are you already have a bunch of relevant industry connections without even realising it. Family, friends, acquaintances – whatever you’d like to call them – should be your first port of call when it comes to growing your network. Luckily for you, you likely already have some sort of relationship. Use your relationship as an opportunity to discuss, get honest feedback on, ask for advice about or enquire about their services for your business. If you’re close, it’s likely they will be more than happy to help in some capacity, especially if you give them the same courtesy and respect.
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals, whether they’re searching for a new opportunity, showcasing their work or looking to connect with likeminded individuals. Join up and start by connecting with people you already know. Follow pages and join groups relevant to your business. Find successful businesses you look up to and other start-ups who may be willing to collaborate. You can even discover potential employees or contractors!
After completing your profile and growing your network, you will begin to get noticed by others. LinkedIn Pulse also allows you to share updates/articles/content with your network, so you can promote your business and build some brand awareness.
Search for Events
Events are one of the best ways to network. They are fun and exciting, but simultaneously can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. Many industries hold events – from large conventions and conferences, to small meet and greets. Search online for something that suits you – perhaps it’s a seminar on launching a successful start-up, a breakfast for entrepreneurs or a convention or those in the food industry. If you’re nervous, take a friend, but be sure to chat and connect with others at the event. You might make a new friend, impress a new investor or find the perfect graphic designer. The best part is that you have met in person first, which is arguably better than connecting through online means before face-to-face contact. Just don’t forget to grab their contact details before you leave!
Go Back to School
The thought of going back to school might make you cringe, but it can actually be extremely beneficial for your start-up business. While you don’t have to go and complete another degree, many organisations run short courses that can provide you with the skills and practical know-how relevant to launching a start-up. Chances are you will meet many people who you will connect with and may be able to work with or seek advice from in the future. It could be the teacher running the course, a younger student who is a social media whiz or the fellow entrepreneur who has successfully grown their business.
Launching a start-up is a brave venture, and it can be extremely difficult to do on your own. Networking is extremely important as it gives you the chances to meet likeminded people, seek advice, discuss problems, work together, think of ideas and essentially, adds value to your start-up. As much as you may feel like the business is your baby, asking others for help to “raise it” is not something you should be ashamed or afraid of. Growing your network will be the best decision you ever made, if not for the business benefits, for the valuable and lasting relationships.