Networking to grow your business

Have you caught on yet? ... Networking is an essential marketing tool for every business no matter what industry you are in. Good networking practices will assist you in connecting effectively with others. Connections can and will be valuable resources that are crucial to your success. Of course, visibility within your business community is always a good thing.

Think of attending an event as hands-on market research for your business. Be prepared to be out of your comfort zone. You don't need to be an extrovert ... this is a very common misconception. Knowing in advance that you might not be comfortable is half the battle.

Start with asking yourself two simple questions. "What do I want to get from networking?" and "How do I achieve this?" Your answers should be simple. The ability to grow my business and by capitalising on the network that I am building. Easy right? It can be ... Here are 3 top tips to help you on your journey towards utilising networking to grow your business.

Know the event. We all receive information prior to an event occurring. This is invaluable. Check out who is exhibiting and who you believe you might want to connect with. Touch base with them prior to the event if possible. Keep it casual but mention that you believe it could be a mutually beneficial connection and see what response you get. The trick is to connect to people that will be a good resource for you and for them to value your connection to them as well. It needs to work for both parties but not always at the same time.

Know your goals. What do you want to achieve from this event by way of networking? Is it to find potential clients, nurture existing relationships, share ideas with similar business groups or to find out the most up to date changes that are occurring in your industry. Networking is about fostering strong, mutually beneficial relationships that can last a lifetime.

Build your business to business ("B2B") network. Know that your connections should be diverse. Connections outside of your own industry and their perspective could be very benefical in implementing new ways of doing things in your business. B2B networking offers a way to reach decision makers that you might not otherwise be able to connect with. Let's face it ... visibility within your business community is paramount.

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