Professional networking… ACTIVE professional networking is paramount for any business or individual for career growth and development, right? But most of us feel awkward or even uncomfortable when we think about going to our next networking event. But why?
I’ve never found human connection as important and vital for business success as I do here in Australia, but more specifically here on the Sunshine Coast.
Networking is without a doubt, THE marketing strategy we always recommend and encourage our clients to master. In fact, it’s almost the only marketing activity we have been following since we settled on the Sunshine Coast 6 years ago, and there is no doubt about the result 😉.
A common misconception is that networking is all about selling yourself or throwing your business cards at everybody. When in fact, it’s all about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. It’s getting to know people who you can help and who can potentially help you in return. Networking is based on TRUST and SUPPORT.
I’ve got to admit, there isn’t more of a supportive community than ours here on the Sunshine Coast. So, what are you waiting for? Networking can be the difference between a mediocre business/career and an amazing one!
In case you’re not yet convinced, let’s look at the 3 main benefits that networking can have on your business or career.
Strengthen business connections
Networking is all about sharing, building trust, and helping each other achieve goals. Regular engagement with your peers in the business community helps you find opportunities for either yourself or your networking connections. By providing opportunities to these connections it helps strengthen the relationship by showing that you’re trustworthy and consistent.
It also demonstrates that you’ve planted the seeds to show you’re willing to be helped by your networking community. Which is often a necessity when you’re aiming to achieve your professional goals. It’s a WIN-WIN.
Although, it's not only about the people you’re meeting with regularly at the networking events, it’s about their networks as well. If someone they know had a need that you or your business could match… what do you think is going to happen? You’re right! If you made a great impression and have proven your value, you’ll likely get that referral. WIN-WIN-WIN.
Can you see where this is going? Remember: we buy from the people we like, not from businesses (unless you are Apple 🤣).
Knowledge and Ideas
Networking is one of the best opportunities to gain knowledge and be exposed to new ideas.
When you attend a networking event you can expect to be exchanging best practices, learning about business techniques that others in the community are using, and keeping up to date with the latest news, trends, and innovations in different industries.
Do you ever feel that you’re not sure about a certain idea? Wouldn't it be great having a trusted group of peers with who you can share your questions and learn?
You know what they say, we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. So, who are you spending your business time with?
More often than not, those that you meet have been in your current situation, so their advice can be invaluable.
Raise your profile
I know that not everybody loves the spotlight on them all the time, but you must agree that being visible and getting noticed is essential in business or career development.
One of the direct benefits of networking is just that. Regular attendance = face recognition = brand recognition = more business opportunities.
A few networking tips
- Be humble.
- Be genuinely interested in others.
- Speak and listen in the same proportion. Remember, we have ears and a mouth, we don’t want to talk, talk, talk 🗣️.
- Offer support and valuable information or tips.
These simple things will help you build a good reputation as a reliable, supportive and knowledgeable community member which is likely to generate more leads and referrals.
These are just three of the many benefits of business networking. I haven’t even touched on building brand reputation, developing trust and familiarity, the multitude of job opportunities, partnerships, and ventures that arise, or the constant access to advice and support, but I will save that for next time.
What are you waiting for? Here on the Sunshine Coast, we have a tonne of networking groups, from your local Chamber of Commerce to professional groups such as BNI, breakfast groups, and even industry-based groups like FAN or Manufacturing Excellence Forum.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’. A good friend told me many years ago, that here on the Sunshine Coast 'it’s not about who you know, but who knows you'. Believe me, I have never been in a place where that is more true than here.
Now you know, if you only have time and resources to implement one marketing strategy this quarter then NETWORK MARKETING is your best bet!
I hope to see you at the next networking event. Don’t hesitate to come by and say hi, introduce yourself and let’s start the year off with a bang!!
Remember, it’s always scary to start, but once you start, your confidence grows and there’s no turning back.