I’ve had a busy few weeks networking. Last night, I returned home from something like my tenth networking event this month. It made me realize that networking is extremely important for entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, you have to look at the value of something before you do it. If something adds little to no value to your life, you may as well eliminate it from your to-do list.
Networking offers a tremendous amount of value, and it’s a value that isn’t just measured in monetary terms. It’s free (usually), and you get to meet like-minded people within your industry whom you may go on to work with, people who may teach you something, or even people who put you in touch with other people who will be of use to you.
There are the odd events where you end up talking to individuals who are just trying to sell you something, and these can mar your opinion of networking. But I’ve found that these types of events are fizzling out, and that more and more events are promoting a laid-back atmosphere that is rife with opportunity.
So the next time you think a networking event is probably going to be a waste of time, here are a few reasons why you should put down your tools for the day and head out to meet new people.
It’s All About the Connections
You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.”
It’s true. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, knowledge alone just isn’t going to cut it. You will also need to know the "right people".
It’s like the bestselling author, businessman and networking guru Harvey Mackay said:
“None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone's help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you.”
Unfortunately, "right people" don’t grow on trees. You can’t plant a seed in your garden and expect a bunch of "right people" to sprout up within a few weeks. Instead, you have to head out and look for them!
Perhaps more than anything else, networking opens up doors to highly influential people that you otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to chat to. They’re not in the pubs or clubs - they’re at networking events.
You Learn New Things
No entrepreneur has gone on to be a rip-roaring success on the back of their own knowledge alone. We all need a helping hand, which is why there is such a big fuss being made about mentors.
You might argue that you could learn all you need to know from reading a book, but the advice you can receive in person from someone who has been a success in YOUR field is invaluable and unparalleled.
Moreover, listening to someone who has been there and done that give you advice on how to balance your personal life with your professional life is something you just can’t gain from reading a few pages out of a book.
Expert advice is available on tap at networking events. It’s waiting for you to make the most of it.
Networking Raises Your Profile
Do people know you?
Do people outside your inclusive circle of friends and family know you?
Being visible is key to the success of any aspiring entrepreneur. Online presence is essential. If you don’t have it, you need to find a way of getting it. One of the best ways is by networking. You can’t just attend one event and say that “I’ve done my bit”, though. You need to become a regular face so that your reputation as a star in your field flourishes.
Eventually, you could become the person one of your contacts thinks of when one of their contacts asks them if they know someone with your skills. Never underestimate the power of referrals. Unless people know who you are, no one is going to refer you - no matter how good you are.
Before someone starts to refer you, you need to give them a reason to:
remember you and
You can do this by sending them an email after the event, adding them to your social media accounts, and by doing something for them.
This could be anything, from a blog post to a review. Reciprocation is key in business. When you do something for someone else, they will feel compelled to return the favor.
Whichever field you’re in, get your name out there and noticed.
Your Positivity Will Grow
Generally speaking, you don’t meet many negative people (if any) at networking events. They’re at home, insisting that networking is “just a waste of time” while having an existential crisis.
Instead, you’ll meet lots of positive people!
This is important for you right now, because who you surround yourself with has a massive impact on your own state of mind.
As Warren Buffet said, you should always hang out with people who are better than you. They push you on, give you drive and determination. They inspire you to be the best you can.
And there are many exceptional people to be met at networking events. So get out there and have fun!
About the Author
This post is written by Gretchen Shaw. Gretchen is an author, blogger and entrepreneur with a penchant for baking. She is passionate about communication, continued learning and connecting people. You can follow her on Twitter: @shawgret