Does the thought of networking fill you with dread? We've all got a story about our experiences of networking (I've got a few!) but when done right it really can work for your business and be fun for you .... I promise!
Here are my key 6 reasons why you should get involved in networking:
1. Word-Of-Mouth Recommendations are key in business!
Successful businesses are built on referrals so let your local business network know who you are and what you do! Grow your own connections and raise your profile at the same time.
2. Find a Mentor
Networking helps you to find people with lots of business experience who are often very willing to share their knowledge with you.
3. Find Suppliers
Networking is a great way to find the best suppliers and to build value-for-money relationships.
4. Understand Market Opportunities
From talking to your peers, you can discover new market opportunities! Networking can really open the door to new opportunities via collaboration or by meeting the buyer directly.
5. Keep up with new Innovations
Professional development is important in the business world so keep up to date with what's new and learn from peers.
6. Find Inspiration
Business can be a lonely place especially if you are a sole trader. Getting together brings about new energy and a new way of thinking.
Networking, when done right, is a great way to build business connections. That said, it can be easy to be a busy fool at networking. When I started in business I went to what felt like everything! Now however, I am more strategic and selective of the networks I get involved in - afterall time is precious when running your own business. I look for networks that are firstly on at a suitable time - 7.00am ... no thanks that's time spent negotiating with the four year old to get dressed for school. Then I look at the format of the event, and who else is going - and what do I want to achieve, who do I need to talk to and what do I want to learn more about.
What is your experience of networking in NI?