Networking 101: Grow Your Business with Networking

Networking is as vital to your business as cash flow. While cash is the currency of tools and supplies, networking is the currency of leads, ideas, and support. 

When you find the right networking groups, they become supportive and valuable communities in which you can gain influence and credibility, meet collaborative partners, learn and give back.

But, if you find yourself in the wrong group it will waste your time, drain your energy and leave you disillusioned and disappointed.

How do you find the right group? You start by deciding what you want out of it and what you are able to offer. This, as with most other things in your business, will change so you will need to reevaluate what you need and can offer regularly.

Robert Kerrigan quote Networking 101 How To Get The Most Out Of It

Do you need referrals, new clients, and resources? Or are you looking for collaborative partners, connections to different prospects, and mentors?

Here are some tips to find your group

Size up the group as a whole. Are they all at your level of expertise or is there a range of business maturity? Are companies at all levels represented in the leadership and focus of the group? Or does it cater more towards startups or established businesses, or does it have a balance of both?

Does the group represent your target market? It won’t do you much good if you try to network your tech business into a Culinary Guild. Or you have a business in which the primary target market are professionals and you have joined a group that is made up of primarily entrepreneurs.

Does the group’s membership heavily represent a particular industry? For example, many networking groups cater to real estate professionals and companies that provide related services such as remodelers, appraisers, and brokers. While others can lean towards multilevel marketing owners.

Does the group have a good reputation? Are they involved in community projects or have a well-known name like the Chamber of Commerce?

Lindsay Fox quote Networking 101 How To Get The Most Out Of It

Whatever groups you decide to join —  pay attention to what you are getting in return. Try to join a group where there is someone that you know and will be a referral partner right away. That immediately gives you credibility in the group when an existing member brings you in and vouches for you. It is hard to go into any situation not knowing anyone. Give yourself six months to a year to become established and let people get to know you, and then ask yourself — Are you getting new clients? Are new doors and opportunities opening for you? Are you able to give back in a way that is meaningful to you?

If you answered any of these with a NO, it may be time to explore something new. Don’t feel obligated to belong to a certain group. Your time and energy is scarce and it’s to your advantage to know when to cut ties and move on.

Sandra is an author, entrepreneur, and business strategist. Drawing from 30 years of business building experience, she teaches new and aspiring entrepreneurs how to achieve sustainable success.

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