NETWORKING: The Free Tool That Everyone ‘Forgets’ To Use
There are few tools that are free in the world, yet networking remains one of the most underestimated and unused tools by many in the business world.
Over the past year or more that I’ve been actively involved in mentoring and assisting entrepreneurs with their businesses, I’ve had the time to reflect on the value and potential power of networking to rapidly grow and expand a business. What an eye-opener it’s been for me as a seasoned entrepreneur. Wow!
Networking is of utmost importance to both personal and business developing, having the potential to propel you towards achieving your life and business goals. The best of all? Networking is not complicated, expensive, nor out of reach. It’s as easy as having a conversation with your friend and asking for help or a reference.
My Personal Experience With Networking
I have very few regrets in life, but one thing that I do regret not using earlier on in my career is networking, and not taking advantage of it as I should have. In recent years, I’ve found how networking has accelerated not only my personal growth, skills and value, but how networking can send a business’s growth through the roof. Its’ a phenomenal thing! I would greatly encourage you to start networking today!
The PROs of Networking
There are not really any downsides to networking. As a startup owner or entrepreneur, will you find many benefits from networking:
- The ability to leverage your connections to gain valuable information and insight.
- Developing supply and sales opportunities at a much faster, rapid rate and accelerate your overall business opportunities.
- Career opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have if you didn’t know with whom to connect.
- Making deeper contacts by association.
- Gaining respect and credibility in your local community and global community by matter of association.
- Networking strengthens business connections since one can exchange connections and continue sharing information and advice.
- Having people in a network that you can rely on helps boost your self-confidence.
- You can gain more visibility from networking and stand out from the crowd.
- Networking helps one gain a different or alternative perspective.
- Many new doors can open when you connect with others. With opportunities presenting themselves that you would not normally have access to.
- Overall, networking is a positive experience that can yield positive results.
How To Go About Networking
Obviously, the best platform for accomplishing and reaching out to contacts can be via LinkedIn. I am not aware of a close second to LinkedIn, although, I find myself verbally asking for information and introductions quite often and this is a direct result of fully understanding the benefits of networking and putting them to good use. Depending on your niche, there is also platforms such as Facebook groups specific to your area of interest, or doing a quick search on the Internet.
The best method for networking is still in person though. I greatly believe in the power of human connection. Think about it. As humans, we are social beings who need to feel connected and of help to others. Business is not merely about making money. It’s also about making connections with people and serving them with a product of service that would add value to their life, and helps them achieve their dreams.
Example: When searching for a new position or career, it is often very valuable to be introduced to a potential employer by a mutual connection. Both examples add legitimacy and credibility to the person being introduced. Humans favour recommendations by others, especially trusted colleagues, friends or family.
Networking is a matter of just having conversations with people, especially people that may have relationships in those areas that you are wanting to explore or the resources that you might require. It is often amazing the help you can get if you simply ask. This is regardless of the platform you choose to use, whether it’s an email, phone call, Skype, LinkedIn, or in person.
My advice to a young person is to not just sit there, quietly, waiting for something to fall in your lap. It’s a very easy process to start asking for contacts, suggestions, or recommendations. Once you start asking around, things have an eventual snowball effect, resulting in your networking continuing to grow and grow and GROW! At some point you’ll have a very large network to draw help and information from, who can also in turn seek your help and advice.
That is the beauty of life. Giving back. Having a network means you can eventually also start helping other people. I’ve been able to do this quite significantly through my EHF community. (EHF is a New Zealand based fellowship of world-class entrepreneurs and investors on a journey to creative positive impact for the world.) Among us, there is a significant amount of networking that goes on. We continually connect, make introductions, and share resources. It’s a totally amazing thing.
Ask for introductions to people, and don’t be shy to ask for help. You’ll be surprised at just how willing other people are to help you. Personally, I’ve met people who during our conversation and learning about my interests would refer me to a contact of theirs on LinkedIn, or by providing me with a phone number or email address.
If you’ve been skimping on networking, there’s no better time than the present to commit to meeting more people, and making those valuable connections. Take a leap of faith, and give networking a try. I can guarantee that you’ll be greatly rewarded for your efforts.
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