7 Benefits of Networking That Help You Survive and Thrive
You’ve probably heard a lot about why networking is important for entrepreneurs. Let me tell you, it’s not only important, it’s crucial – and especially so during a time of crisis. Your network should help keep you sane, informed, and profitable. 2020 has shown us exactly how important those three elements are to any entrepreneur.
Should you spend time building your network? What benefits does a professional network bring to the entrepreneur?
How important is networking for entrepreneurs?
Networking specialist Dr. Ivan Misner helped to write and conduct a survey of more than 12,000 business professionals to identify the role that networking plays in success. The survey found that professionals who spend an average of 6.3 hours per week networking say that it plays a crucial role in their success.
Other statistics provide further concrete evidence of the power of networking. For example:
According to the Freelancing in America Survey, 46% of freelancers said they get work from friends and family and 36% said they get work from professional contacts
LinkedIn is a good source of business for entrepreneurs, with 35% of survey respondents saying that a casual conversation on the networking platform has led to new opportunities
These statistics don’t lie. Your ability to create and develop your network really does make a difference to your business. However, it’s not only your network’s ability as a source of business that makes networking a critical business function for entrepreneurs.
The benefits of networking in a crisis
Crises come in all shapes and sizes. They might be specific to your business; for example, a cashflow issue or your best salespeople have left to join a competitor. They could be crises that affect a wider community, such as a natural disaster, or even a whole economy, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whatever crisis you are facing, your network can help see you through it successfully, because of the benefits that networking can provide. Here are seven reasons why networking is important for entrepreneurs.
Networking helps to acquire new customers
By staying in touch with others in your field, your network should help you to develop your business, providing potential contacts and leads that you can convert into new customers.
Networking is a source of referrals
We often think of referrals as being leads to nurture as new customers, but your network can also be a source of referrals when your business needs specific expertise, new employees, legal advice, financing, and much more.
Networking is incredible brand marketing
A strong, professional network will become your brand’s most enthusiastic advocates. The positive nature of your networking will help to expose your brand to a wider audience of likeminded entrepreneurs, business contacts, and new customers.
Networking leads to new opportunities
Your network is a potential mine of business knowledge, helping to keep you informed of what is happening in your field. It’s also a source of potential partnerships and investment. For many entrepreneurs, these opportunities can develop into new, profitable business lines, services, and products.
Networking is a great source of market information
You don’t want to fall behind your competitors or be taken by surprise by a new entrant to your market. Your network can keep you informed of competitors’ plans, their new products and services.
Networking improves your personal expertise
There are some things that books will never be able to teach you. As you develop your network, you increase your opportunities to learn from the real-life experience of others. Your connections will share their experience, their problems, and their solutions. This sharing of expertise and knowledge will help you avoid mistakes that could sink your business.
Networking is a fast-track to experience in business
The experience that your network possesses will always be greater than your own. This is experience that you can learn from directly, with your connections providing valuable input that helps you take the best course of action in any market environment. You’ll create better solutions, and the experience that your network shares with you will help to boost your confidence in a crisis.
Here’s what I know
Your network can be the most powerful of all your business tools. It can provide a host of benefits to you as an entrepreneur, especially during a crisis.
Knowing that your connections have been there, done it, written the book, and worn the T-shirt is comfort in itself. They’ve pulled through bad times themselves, and their experience can help you not only survive, but thrive.
Networking isn’t an optional tactic, it’s an essential strategy and skill. If you’re not networking, you are not maximizing your ability to develop your business, even through a crisis.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself:
How much time do I spend networking each day?
When was the last time I offered compassionate assistance to someone online, or in my community, or to a new entrepreneur?
When did I last overhaul my network to make sure I’m connected to the right people?
Do I have a strategy to use social media as a networking tool?
Let me know your answers, either in the comments below or by emailing me directly. Let your next connection in your network be me.