As an entrepreneur, the power of networking can enhance, grow, and boost the visibility of your business.
It makes logical sense to include networking in your yearly marketing schedule.
For many, the start of a new year allows you to reflect on the state of your business. It’s an opportunity to review what has worked and what hasn’t and set positive intentions for the future.
If you are a solopreneur, you are your business’s heart and soul. While this can be liberating and exciting, it can leave you overwhelmed and isolated. Networking provides a community of business owners who have travelled the same path and can offer support, advice, and guidance.
There are many sides to networking and you, as an individual and a business owner, need to decide what you hope to get from the process.
Networking events allow you to meet like-minded individuals and make valuable connections with potential customers and others who may promote you to their contacts.
Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and networking is the perfect arena to build your brand and make new friends. A survey done by Alignable found that 85% of businesses say the best way to acquire local customers is by word of mouth.
Not everyone you meet will want to work with you, but a much wider circle stretches to all corners of the business world. If you approach networking as an opportunity to create long-lasting relationships, build a trusting community, and help others, you will reap the benefits.
3 Tips for Business Networking
Before getting to my favourite networking tips, it’s worth mentioning how you can network and if you have a preference.
Thanks to the pandemic, networking events are now available in different formats. Many have returned to traditional face-to-face meet-ups, but some networks have flourished on the virtual stage. Others have decided to offer a hybrid solution with some in-person events as well as online meetings.
What works for you? How comfortable and confident are you with face-to-face events? Is time a significant factor for you? Would jumping on a Zoom call give you back two hours of travelling time?
Think carefully about how you want to network and search for the right fit to meet your needs.
What’s your strategy? – It may seem strange to create a strategy for having coffee with like-minded business owners, but knowing exactly what you want to get out of your networking helps you find the right group.
For some, it might be all about making connections and getting referrals. For others, it might be to increase visibility and introduce the face behind the brand. What is your marketing WHY for networking?
Get clear on what you hope to achieve and start with this goal in mind.
Have a clear introduction – Some networks have strict 60-second pitches where you succinctly introduce yourself and your business. Other networks are more relaxed and allow you more time or a chance to share links.
Having a few variations of your business bio can help. Practise these so you can say them without referring to notes. Be confident when you introduce yourself and show how passionate you are about your business.
For example, if I only had 60 seconds to introduce Woman Who, I might condense my larger bio to something like, “I’m Sandra Garlick, founder of the Woman Who network and Woman Who Achieves Awards. I help women in business boost their visibility through networking events, collaboration, and learning opportunities. As an experienced public speaker, I know there is nothing more powerful than sharing your business story.”
This shortened version can be used at networks where brief introductions are accepted, but I know there are many areas of my business I can expand upon at other events.
At the end of your pitch, you may wish to include a call to action (CTA) asking the attendees for something in return. Perhaps you are looking for a specific connection or want to invite people to join your Facebook group. At the end of the example above, I might add something like, “…I’m looking for solopreneurs who want to promote their brand to a large audience through award nominations.”
Avoid the hard sell – There is nothing worse than feeling like you are being sold to. Networking is about building relationships, finding connections, and nurturing that trust and authenticity. People buy from people they know, like, and trust, so avoid selling your products or services and simply saying “Buy my stuff” at every opportunity.
Share stories about how you help your customers with their challenges so other attendees can relate to what you do. This allows people to connect emotionally with you and your business.
I hope you found those tips helpful.
Here’s a bonus tip that might be one of the essential networking aspects. Imagine attending a networking event and meeting someone who is your ideal customer. Would you leave the event and never get in touch? No! You would drop them a follow-up email to say how much you enjoyed meeting them and see if a further meeting could be arranged.
Whether you meet potential customers or not, it’s good etiquette to follow up with everyone you speak to at an event. You never know who they have in their wider circle. Building relationships takes time. Start with a simple follow-up and stay in touch.
“…Woman Who Achieves is a fabulous network that brings women in business together, helping them to break down those barriers, inspire them to grow and push them forward in business” Linsey Luke, Deputy Head of Field Staff England, Federation of Small Businesses.
Do you want to be part of the Woman Who Community in 2023?
The Woman Who Achieves Academy is a fast-track environment of learning and support to help you power up your personal brand and get visible.
There are three levels of subscription:
- Academy Lite– for women in business who are just starting out on their journey and not quite ready or unable to devote the time just yet. This level provides all the learning, networking in the Facebook Group, a Directory entry, and an opportunity feature on the Woman Who Chat Podcast.
- Academy Gold– for women in business who are ready to power up their personal brand and get visible through the opportunities created.
- Academy Platinum– for women in business who want to accelerate their business growth and visibility through public speaking and includes a monthly Mastermind.
“Joining The Woman Who Achieves Academy has been, by far, the best business decision I made for a very long time! The Academy is home to a motivated group of businesswomen, ready to support each other, who bring their particular skills and knowledge to the group for the benefit of the community.
Sandra is everything you’d expect: a wonderful business role model for us all, and a genuinely caring and warm human being, who shares her knowledge and ideas for our betterment.
In short, The Woman Who Achieves Academy is a safe place for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and even problems, and it also has a social aspect that is much needed right now, in the Autumn of 2020! I’d wholeheartedly recommend you join us!” Andrea de Gabriel, Andrea de Gabriel Portrait Photography
January 2023 Woman Who Inspires Event
Each month Woman Who hosts the Woman Who Inspires Network, and tickets to our January event are now live.
With Woman Who events, there will be networking, inspirational speakers, and learning with this month’s theme, Networking.
In business, we need to network to increase our contacts and our pipeline of work for the future. Whether you network online or in person, you’ll be able to share your networking tips and learn new ones.