How Entrepreneurs Use Networking
An essential skill for any entrepreneur is the ability to create meaningful connections via networking, also called network development. Creating connections with customers both old and new is important, but creating a network of other entrepreneurs and business owners provides value customers alone can't provide. Typically this comes in the form of insights and ideas from various industry experts looking to exchange tips and advice.
In its simplest form, networking is defined as making social connections with a business objective. If your goal is to receive more value than you give in the process, your efforts will have only short-term rewards. With that in mind, go about your network development with long-term goals of giving more than you receive.
At this juncture, you may be wondering how you can go about network development. Every year, businesses across the world come together in different forums. Some of the participants of these events is a group of highly skilled entrepreneurs with a common objective. They aim to generate, share, and develop ideas as well as meet potential investors and industry experts. The entrepreneurs want to add the right people around them and form meaningful relationships.
Finding Potential Networking Groups
For most people, networking is talking to friends and family members as part of their social network. Networking as a business has a more focused approach on finding like-minded individuals, even if the company they represent is in a different industry. The Greater Vancouver Chamber hosts monthly Business After Hours, aimed to network all kinds of businesses and members across southwest Washington. Another opportunity to grow your professional network, could be attending to a ribbon cutting or grand opening of a new business in the region. Creating a network with as many points of view as possible is ideal in helping find solutions to future problems. If an entrepreneur has never looked into creating a network, we've put together some tactics to help them approach networking and how to leverage it.
Social Media and Entrepreneur Events
Network development doesn't always start in-person, but it sure can kick off your efforts with some big wins. Find events that will attract your peers in your area, and reach out to us at the Greater Vancouver Chamber for suggestions.
For networking in the digital realm, social media has become a powerful tool for entrepreneurs to make connections. Depending on a brand's identity and target demographic, different platforms may yield better results than others.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at connecting business owners together. However, if you're looking for something a bit more professional and targeted than a Facebook group, the reigning king of networking as an entrepreneur is LinkedIn, a social media platform created specifically for businesses to interact. Direct communication between entrepreneurs is as easy as searching for others in your industry to get started.
How To Use a Network of Entrepreneurs
The first point we want to make isn't about how to bolster business using a network, but instead how to maintain motivation. Networking builds relationships that often turn into friendships which is essential to help balance the grind needed to be successful and avoid burnout.
These friends are also the ones that may present the most opportunity. An opportunity may come in the form of new sales avenues, investment options, joint ventures and customer or client leads. Depending on the industry, qualified referrals may also come down the funnel, which turns into easy conversions later on. Having access to a network of entrepreneurs and their clients comes with increased visibility, especially when communication between business owners happens publicly online or in-person.
When a network is established and embraced, entrepreneurs can surround themselves with positive influences and even find mentors eager to share their knowledge with fresh minds. The more information gathered, the more confidence an owner has in executing business plans and decisions. We're excited to see new entrepreneurs attending networking events within our community, and how they'll use them to expand their business.