If you're looking to grow your business, networking events are a great way to do it.
Local networking events can help you meet new people and connect with potential clients. You can also learn from other business owners and get advice on how to grow your business. In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of attending local networking events for your business.
How many local business networking events have you attended?
What can your business get from regularly attending networking events? It's hard to know where to start. Right across the UK, we have BNI ‘chapters', 4N events, and all sorts of other local and regional events, depending on where you live.
I attend FindaBiz Networking, a local business networking organisation with over 120 members across groups in Nuneaton, Tamworth, Hinckley, Coventry, Telford, Kirby Muxloe and Tonbridge.
Benefits your business can receive from attending networking events:
- You'll get to meet other like-minded individuals and expand your professional network
- Attending these events signals to others that you're serious about what you do and are looking to grow your business
- Sharing info about what you do with others in a casual setting can lead to referral business down the line.
Networking groups have various formats and rules. Some, for example, require members to give a certain number of referrals to other members. Others only allow one business owner from each industry to attend. This might mean that the local event has a single graphic designer who builds websites occasionally if opportunities arise. Depending on the group's rules, such an arrangement could keep any web designers from joining.
There are different networking events you can try. Some meet early in the morning, some during lunchtime, and others prefer to meet later in the evening. By attending these events, you get an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to other local entrepreneurs.
“Networking helped build our agencies and is an essential element of our ongoing marketing strategy. If you are a new or established business, you should consider your own strategy for generating leads through networking” – Lee Jackson, Trailblazer FM.
After five years of running my business on the side and accepting work as it came, I realised that if I wanted to make a real, local impact and secure enough new business to sustain myself, I'd have to get out and network. I joined the Chamber of Commerce and got involved in various networking groups, including my local FindaBiz networking group.
It's important not to try and sell your services immediately or spend too much time talking about yourself when you're networking. Making a sale is unlikely on your first attempt, and you'll likely have to keep going for some time before it pays off. When you show up, share your knowledge, help others in your group, and refer clients to them over time, they'll likely do the same for you.
If you're on the fence about attending local networking events, let me talk about just some of the benefits of networking that may help you make your decision:
You'll Get to Meet New People
You'll have the opportunity to meet new people when you attend networking events. You never know who you might meet and what kinds of connections you can make. If you want to grow your business, networking is a great way to do it.
By attending networking events and listening to other business owners, you gain a different perspective on what is possible for your business. You might also get some great ideas you can implement in your business.
You Can Connect With Potential Clients
Attending local networking events is an excellent way to gain new clients. When I decided to go full-time with my business, I asked other agency owners about their experience with network marketing, and I received some fantastic advice and responses.
One agency owner told me: “You never know who you might meet. When I attended a local networking event a few years ago, an older business owner I trusted introduced me to a company that had just moved to the area and was looking for tech support services. That introduction led to a five-figure contract.”
“Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It's about cultivating relationships. Don't engage in premature solicitation. You'll be a better networker if you remember that.” – Dr Ivan Misner
By attending local events, not only do you have the potential to meet new clients, but you're also in a prime spot to be referred by other entrepreneurs. The individual you met at the event may not need your services, but he may know someone else who does and can put you in touch with one another.
Keep up with Industry Trends
The business world moves fast, and your business constantly expands and evolves, no matter your industry. Finding the time or energy to keep up with current trends can be challenging when you have a lot going on in your personal and professional life. Networking with people from your industry is a great way to stay informed without putting in the extra effort.
Staying on top of trends can do wonders for your business. For example, you might discover a new marketing trend that changes how you advertise your service to customers.
Connect with Influencers
Keep in mind that not every influencer is a potential client. That being said, they're often the people who can spread the news about your business and what you have to offer. They're always looking for new products or services to share with their various circles, so events are the perfect place to start talking to them.
You don't want to develop a friendship with someone solely to ask them to promote your work. Instead, focus on building relationships with potential influencers based on shared interests or passions.
Learn New Things
“If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.”
If you attend an event and realise that everyone else there is years behind in business knowledge or just starting, chances are you won't learn much.
While you might have some fun and meet new people, it's unlikely that this will lead to high-paying clients.
It can be beneficial to attend networking events with various experience levels so you can learn from others. This gives you a chance to learn from entrepreneurs who are further along on their journey than you are and gain insights that could help your own business grow.
Develop Your Message
You will have to introduce yourself by regularly attending local networking events. You'll be sharing with others who you are, your profession, and the type of people you want to work with.
The more you reiterate your mission and the identity of those you serve, the better you become at it. Being a great public speaker doesn't come naturally to everyone, but that doesn't mean you can't improve with practice. The more you do it, the easier it will become to share your message and tell people what makes you unique.
Become the Expert
If you share your knowledge and expertise, people will start to see you as the authority in your field. Eventually, you'll become the go-to person for questions or problems related to your industry, which will help you attract more clients over time.
Developing a reputation is key to success in any field, especially if you regularly attend events. If people start to associate your name with what you do, they'll be more likely to refer business your way and offer you paid work.
Join Forces on a Project
Not only will you find potential clients and influencers at local networking events, but you'll also meet other business owners who could be excellent partners for future projects.
You could collaborate with a like-minded local entrepreneur to produce content that would speak directly to your shared target market. This might include a series of YouTube videos or writing and launching a book or product together.
Find Local Contractors
Local networking events are great places to connect with potential business partners if you plan on outsourcing some of your work in the future. By networking locally, you might unexpectedly meet the virtual assistant who will help your business grow, your project manager to organise said goals, a great graphic designer, or even the business coach you need.
Networking events are still a terrific way to meet other entrepreneurs, even if you already have a great team. These individuals can provide new perspectives on your work or suggest how to make your team more productive.
Grow Your Professional Network
Networking events aren't just casual meet-and-greets. They're opportunities to expand the group of people you can rely on for advice, support, and referrals as you advance in your career. A close-knit group of professionals you can rely on is critical to success as an entrepreneur.
You can't do everything alone, and networking events give you a chance to connect with people who can help you achieve your goals. Whether you need a sounding board for business ideas, help to troubleshoot a technical problem, or just want to chat about the industry with someone who understands, networking events are a great way to find the people you need in your life.
A desire to achieve more
The atmosphere of local networking events can inspire you by bringing together other entrepreneurs who are passionate and committed to their businesses.
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely and challenging journey. Your friends and family might not understand why you don't have a traditional job or why you gave up your career to pursue this dream. They also might not see what your end goal is.
It's easy to feel discouraged and lose your motivation, but speaking with other entrepreneurs who are passionate about their businesses can remind you of your own business goals and give you the drive to keep going.
Sometimes, the answer to your problem is staring you right in the face, but you're too close to the situation to see it. Attending local networking events can help give you a new perspective on things.
Hearing from others can jumpstart new ideas or help you find solutions to problems. You might even connect with someone who knows how to solve your problem or helps you look at it differently.
Give something back
Renew your perspective on networking events- they aren't just about getting more clients. They're also an opportunity for you to give back to the group and help others. While it's great to meet a potential big client, sometimes you'll come across someone who just needs a kind word or piece of advice.
You never know – the person you help out could be the next big client for your business. It's always a good feeling to help others, and it often comes around.
It always works out better for everyone when you join networking events with a giving mindset. The more positive people you attract, the more likely others will want to help you. Not only this, but you'll have a much better time if you focus on giving rather than trying to get something out of the event.
It's okay to feel nervous before speaking in front of a group, especially if you think you have nothing valuable to say; most people there will feel the same way. As a new entrepreneur, you may not have all the answers, but you can still support and encourage others to pursue their dreams. Just being present brings value!
Raise Your Confidence
The more events you attend and the more people you talk to, the more confident you'll become.
You'll start to see networking events as opportunities instead of challenges. You'll also become more comfortable talking about your business and what you do.
The more confidence you have, the easier it will be to attract potential customers and clients. You'll feel better about delivering your message and talking with others about how you can help their business. With this newfound courage, you'll feel confident taking risks in your business ventures.
Planning on attending your first business networking event?
At first, local networking events can seem daunting. However, nobody knows everyone present or everything about the event upon arrival. So relax – you're in the same boat as everyone else! Not only are networking events a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs, but they can also be fun and exciting.
If you have business goals, attend local networking events to help achieve them. You'll meet other entrepreneurs, learn about industry trends, and share your expertise. Get out there and start networking! Attending an event is a great way to get started. Who knows – it could start something big for your business.
There are a few ways to find networking events in your area. BNI, 4N, Entrepreneur's Circle, and other networking organisations often have events open to guests. You can also check Meetup and Eventbrite for networking events happening near you.