This is the blog transcript of our video “Networking Fundamentals Introduction for Business Owners”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
Congratulations, you have a small business.
You may even have a list of clients or a surefire way to gain customers. If so, congrats again. You’re ahead of most people.
But, at the end of the day, no matter what you do, there’s a good chance you can’t do it without help.
There’s no denying that businesses thrive on relationships. So, at some point, you will have to — you guessed it — network.
Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.
For the past ten years, I’ve helped my clients use Mission Suite get the most out of the contacts they make through the course of their prospecting and selling activities.
But what if you’re new to the whole “business” game and don’t have enough contacts to fill a loveseat? Well, it might be time for you to dig into business networking.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
It’s a depressing mantra that’s been repeated across industries.
While I’d love to sit here and tell you it’s not true, I would be lying.
History has shown that someone who’s simply okay at their business but amazing at networking will fare much better than someone who’s amazing at their business but just okay at networking. So, even if you design websites alone in your house, that doesn’t mean you can just wave off networking as “something extroverts do”.
But what exactly is networking?
Today we’ll talk about what networking is and why it’s crucial to the health and wellbeing of your business.
So, let’s start with the basics:
What is business networking?
If you want to get really technical, business networking is “the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients or customers.”
At its core, it boils down to finding a group of people who can help each other grow. Those people could include people in complementary businesses — such as a supplier that serves your industry — customers who could use your services, or even competitors.
The more you integrate yourself into businesses in your industry or complementary ones, the more you’ll be able to both learn, grow, and better serve your clients.
For example, as you speak with other people, you are more likely to understand alternative ways of solving a problem that could ultimately save you time or money. Who knows, these connections may even be able to help you with a particular issue you’re having.
But it’s not just a one-way street.
What networking ISN’T is an endless well of resources for you to pull from at your own convenience.
Yes, we’re all interested in GAINING from networking, but the whole process is about relationships first and foremost.
Like any relationship, there is a give and take. You get as much from the experience as much as you put into it. So while the end result is that your networking connections can help you when you’re in need, you’re also there to help them in similar situations.
The right mindset is to go into every networking opportunity with a helpful attitude. Don’t go in there looking to get something. Instead, look for ways in which you can add value.
What do you have to offer that no one else does, and how can you be as helpful as possible to those around you?
The more you’re able to add value, the more others will look on you favorably.
Then, when the opportunity comes for them to return the favor, they will actually remember to do so.
How many of you have gone into networking opportunities with the “get” mindset? You’d be surprised at the number of people who simply don’t understand that they’re doing it wrong. That the purpose of the network lies beyond how it can help them.
If this has been you, let us know in the comments down below. Then let us know how you went about fixing that problem. And don’t forget to hit the like button while you’re down there if you’re getting something out of these videos!
As I mentioned before, networking is not an endless stream of contacts you can pull from when they suit you and only you. However, networking is all about the relationships.
As I implied before, networking isn’t just about the result.
Sure, you hope your networking efforts will benefit you and your business financially, but it’ll only hurt you if you think of networking in terms of dollar signs.
In many ways, the benefits of networking are intangible. It helps keep you abreast of your industry and those adjacent to yours, it opens your mind to other business approaches, and it slowly opens up your network as friends introduce you to other friends.
As such, it’s important to think of networking as you would any friendship. At the end of the day, these businesses are made up of people. That human element is perhaps the most important part of this whole thing, as it really can change your perspective going into each and every networking opportunity.
So, how does it work?
Here’s a bit of Business Networking 101.
Networking events can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be one-off mixers, breakfasts, conferences, or even weekly meetings in a more organized group.
But, no matter how it’s handled, the general approach is similar. These meetings are a way for you to learn and engage on an initial and superficial level with a person or group of people. You can learn a bit about who they are and what they do, but there’s a good chance you may just spend your time shooting the breeze on a more personal level.
The key thing here is that you exchange information. Be it a phone number or email, make sure you get their information, along with some sort of reminder to yourself of who they are.
As great as these initial meetings are, they are only the tip of the networking iceberg. From there, you need to actively follow up with those people you really clicked with and set up one-on-one meetings.
These follow ups are crucial to the process, because they allow you to get to know these people on a deeper level. The better you know them, the more you’ll click with them personally, and the more you’ll know the pain points of their business. The more you know that, the more you know if and how you can best help them.
Now, rinse and repeat.
After you go through this process several times, you’ll realize just how much your web of contacts is growing, and before you know it, you’ll start reaping the benefits.
And speaking of which, some of you may be wondering just what the benefits are.
So, why bother networking?
From everything I’ve said so far, it may sound like more trouble than it’s worth. After all, you’re almost ironically striving to GIVE more than you GAIN.
Well, when done right, you will ultimately gain in ways you never could have foreseen. Yes, you may head into a group with a nebulous idea that you need to grow your business, but years later, you may find that things turned out differently.
Maybe a connection you made with someone led to industry conversations that made you realize you needed to pivot your business model.
Or maybe you realized there was a certain role you needed to fill in order for your company to reach the next level, and someone in your network had a friend of a friend who was the perfect person to take it on.
Or, hey, maybe things turned out as planned, and you found someone in the group who needed your service. Luckily, you took the time to actually get to know them, as people are much more likely to turn to someone they know for a service or product.
In short, networking is a hugely beneficial and oftentimes fun aspect of running a business.
When you’re grinding away at your work, trying to keep your bottom line up, it’s sometimes easy to feel like you’re in it alone.
However, when you have the support of a network, it makes the job just that much less terrible.
We wrote up a blog article and e-book that does an extensive deep dive into business networking that’s worth checking out whether you’re a newbie networker or a grizzled veteran.
You can check out the link to download the e-book in the description below.
Hey I hope you got something out of this video. And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!
We’ll see you next time around!