So you’re off to a good start!
You have now gone beyond just having a great idea but have started to turn that idea into a real business. You are now part of the millions of entrepreneurs in South Africa that are taking this journey to financial freedom. It’s important to note that as a business owner you will have to amass a wide array of business skills and knowledge. Much of this can be acquired through learning, but the bulk of it will come through interacting with like-minded individuals such as you. This is where business networking comes in.
Once you find like minded business people who could potentially add value to your business, and begin cultivating a working business relationship, they then become part of your network. As a business developer you will need to start being aware of the various contacts you amass and start being intentional about steadily growing your network. This is one of the most important business strategies you can apply, especially as a start-up or a small business. Every successful business or business person has developed a solid business network.
So then, you as an entrepreneur will need to start building your own business network intentionally. I reiterate, this is especially important to do when you are still getting your business off the ground or cultivating steady business growth. This is because being connected to the right people can greatly increase your customer base (through the contacts and their referrals), and it can also reduce your input costs (through forming mutually beneficial deals with your contacts).
With that said, the how-to becomes important, because there is the right way in which you can do it and there’s the wrong way. Below, I have listed some important business networking tips for building and sustaining a solid business network; and every week, for the next few weeks, I will be posting more tips.
Business networking tips:
- Start by making a list of all of the kind of contacts and or partnerships that would be valuable to you:
This is called planning out the skeleton of your business network. This is so that when you do get business contacts, (in a networking event for example), you will be able to quickly identify the most important ones which need to be contacted soon.
- Make sure you attend as many business networking events as you can:
As the owner, no one can explain the business better than you, and these events give you the platform to share your vision with other business people. Also you get to learn about other businesses and gain some important connections.
- At networking events, try to gain genuine business connections with other people. DO NOT focus on selling your product here
At these events, make sure you interact with as many people as possible with the aim of forming real business relationships. Your network is much richer when it has contacts with real referral value, than if it just has a list of names and numbers.
- After gaining contacts; organize and track them carefully as part of your network.
A solid network is maintained through forming real trust relationships with your contact. Having someone’s business card does not make him a network contact. Once you organize your network contacts in order of priority and importance, make sure you keep regular contact with the crucial ones.
- “Give and it shall be given unto you”
Always try to make sure that you provide value and assistance to your important contacts as much as you can (research their industry if possible). Once you become valuable to them then they will give you greater access to their resources and contacts (i.e. they will refer you and your services to others.)
These five tips will prove to be valuable to you whether you are starting to build your business network or working on maximizing its value potential.
Please do leave a comment, question or addition should you have any.