How many benefits of business networking can you think of? Three? Four? Nine?
Well, I am going to set out a full 18 benefits of networking – 15 as advertised and 3 bonus ones.
Why bother listing the benefits of business networking?
Aside from the obvious curiosity factor, this list may help you look at new ways to approach your network and new ways to make it work for you. It may also inspire you to grow and enhance your network.
In my research, I came across this article by Kim Baird on amazingbusiness.com, which offered 9 benefits of business networking. I decided to use it as a starting point and source. I also found some interesting insights in this article by Neil Patel. Both sources are well worth a read.
That said, let’s take a look at my list. Oh, and if you think of any other benefits, please let me know in the comments.
The 15 powerful benefits to you of business networking are;
1. It Generates Referrals and Increases Business
According to an article on this blog, 65% of new business comes from referrals.
And, from the same article, a study by Nielsen found that 92% of people trusted referrals from people they know.
By networking with people who know and trust you, you get high-quality referrals as they are confident in your abilities. What is more, the leads you get will be of a higher caliber than through other marketing avenues as they are pre-qualified.
And since you know the person referring you, you will often be able to find out plenty of information about who the lead is, precisely what they want and what they expect from a business partner or provider like you.
To make the most of your network, you need to find out what your connections are looking for. This makes a great excuse for contacting them. Then, take some time to find ways to refer your connections to one another. It is not something to be forced and takes time.
The aim is to be aware of what your connections need and keep that in the back of your mind (or on a list).
When a new person joins your network, try to figure out if they would be able to help any of your existing network connections in any way.
If so, put them in touch with one another. If you do this consistently, your network will start returning the favor, which will increase referrals and new business for you.
2. Business Networking Presents Opportunities
Even the most dedicated networkers are ultimately networking to find new and lucrative opportunities.
Networking with a group of highly motivated people will undoubtedly result in you being offered a host of opportunities, ones that you would never have access to if you were not part of the network.
This might include partnerships, new ventures, cross-promotions, joint-promotions, investments and more.
Actually, due to the fact that your relationship with your network connections is stronger than it would be if you were merely “doing business” with one another results in the average size and earning potential of the opportunities you will be presented with being larger.
3. Your Network Becomes a Resource
Your network is a fantastic resource for information and advice. Most of your network connections would have been “in the trenches” for a long enough time to have seen what has worked and what hasn’t.
By networking, and more importantly, by continually keeping in touch with your existing network connections, you will have access to the opinions of a wide range of people who are qualified through their education, experience, and achievements to offer you insights that you would be hard-pressed to get elsewhere.
Again, don’t just contact your network when you need something. Be sure to build rapport with each of them over time so when you do need their help and advice, they will gladly give it.
4. It Allows You to Connect Sideways, Up and Down
An article on entrepreneur.com website states that networking is one of the best ways to find a mentor.
Not only that, but according to this website, 46% of people find a new job through networking (which is much higher than any other way).
Not only does business networking allow you to connect with other business people on your own level, but also those at higher and lower levels.
When I say “higher” level, I am referring to people with more experience, higher status and greater influence than you, such as thought leaders and mentors. Their advice and guidance will be invaluable to you as you build up your business or career.
On the other hand, you will also be able to network with people who have less expertise or status than you, for example, people just starting out in their own business and employees.
These people will offer insights based on their unique perspective, and their opinions should not be discounted.
They may also become customers – if you offer what they need – or you may be able them to refer them to others in your network, earning you kudos with those you refer them to.
What is more, they may have personal contacts in their own networks that could be very useful to you in the future.
By being willing to network with all manner of people, you will find that your network soon includes people at all levels of business, becoming a rich source of potential mentors, employees, service providers and suppliers.
5. Business Networking Raises your Profile
Your profile is all-important in business as people can only support you if they know about you.
Networking raises your profile through constant interaction, either because you are building existing relationships but also because you are meeting new people on an ongoing basis.
Over time, as you help others with advice and actions, you become a resource, a person who can be relied upon and trusted, which is the very bedrock of increased success.
Sure, your profile could be raised through advertising or social media but the fact is that the promotion you get through your network is of an infinitely higher quality than those other sources as it is based on trust and word-of-mouth.
This also ties into previous points because as your profile is enhanced through networking, you will find that you will get more referrals and more business.
“Networking has been cited as the number one unwritten rule of success in business. Who you know really impacts what you know.” – Sallie Krawcheck (CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, owner, and Chair of Ellevate Network, author)
6. It Helps Build Your Brand
Does your business have a brand?
Yes. And a large part of that brand is you.
As you build your network, other business people will get to know more about your business, what it stands for and what it represents.
If you are friendly, helpful and genuine, his enhances the brand of your business as these values are what people will start to associate with your company.
This helps enhance your brand, which starts to help you rise above the crowd as being less generic and easily identifiable.
This, in turn, will lead to greater exposure and more lucrative opportunities.
7. Networking Allows You to Become an Expert
Many in your network will realize that you know more than they do about your industry, making you their “go-to” person for information and advice on matters pertaining to your field of expertise.
They will also refer their friends and connections to you as well, providing the opportunity for you to build up your network organically.
Giving free advice to these people is a great way to open the door for reciprocal business later on.
8. It Widens your Sphere of Influence
The more people you meet and get to know, the more people will know you.
It is essential to be as memorable as possible. You can do this by dressing like a clown or wearing a Halloween costume at networking meetups. However, while you will be remembered for this, it won’t be for the right reasons.
It’s far better to be memorable because you are helpful, genuine and friendly.
If you are, the chance of your name coming up in conversation with people outside your own circles will increase dramatically. In turn, this has a compounding effect on the number of people who are aware of you.
9. It Has a Positive Influence on Your Personality and Sense of Well-Being
Sure, for many people, face-to-face socializing and networking are stressful activities. But they should be viewed as being challenges rather than obstacles. There is so much that can be gained from networking.
It’s no secret that being around successful people will positively influence you by motivating and inspiring you. You can’t help but get caught up in their excitement.
What is more, networking allows you to feel connected to others, letting you feel as though you fit in and are part of a community. This also gives a powerful boost to your sense of well-being.
10. It Forces You to Keep an Open Mind
When meeting new people, you will be faced with opinions, ideas, and issues that you do not fully understand or have been completely unaware of. It may be a perspective on an issue you thought was cut and dried, opening up an entirely new avenue of thought or investigation for you.
Or, it may be a thought-provoking opinion, or even world-shaking, and leads to you re-looking at the way you view things.
It may even be an idea that sparks something in your own mind and leads to an opportunity or new venture that is completely unexpected.
“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.” – Christine Comaford-Lynch (businesswoman, author, and serial entrepreneur)
11. Business Networking Increases Confidence
Facing and overcoming fear more often than not leads to an immense sense of achievement, one that is not comparable to any other.
Many people suffer from shyness or introversion and dislike meeting new people. However, by networking on an ongoing basis and pushing themselves to meet new people, they enjoy greater self-confidence and a greater sense of achievement.
12. It Raises Your Self-Awareness
Networking allows you to build your self-awareness by forcing you to distill your personality, business knowledge, and skills in such a way that they are easy to understand and easy to get across.
This process, along with the enhanced confidence you can get from networking, helps you understand yourself better by allowing you to see yourself through the eyes of others.
13. It allows you to Practice your Pitch
Meeting new people will usually involve telling them who you are and what you do, which is a fantastic opportunity to experiment with presenting your business proposition.
You can also practice delivering your elevator pitch, which is “a succinct and persuasive” introduction to what your company is and what it does.
This experience, along with the self-confidence you gain by repeating your pitch over and over again, will make introducing yourself and your business to potential partners or investors far easier.
14. Networking Gives Satisfaction Through Helping Others
According to this article on time.com, helping others can reduce mortality rates in the elderly by up to 22%. If that is the case, then helping others is good for your health. However, like the article states, to get any benefits out of helping others, you must do it consistently and with the right motivation.
Health benefits aside, helping others can also be one of the most satisfying things you can do. And since networking is built upon the idea of “giving first”, helping should be a large part of your networking efforts.
By helping those you connect with, you not only help enhance your network, but you help create a sense of reciprocity.
And reciprocity is the glue that holds a good network together as most decent people hate being viewed as “takers” and will try and return the favors they get from you at some stage.
15. It Allows You to Make New Friends
Meeting and speaking to new people constantly will increase the chance of making new friends. When meeting new people, try to find out what their interests are. If you have similar interests and values, bingo!
There is every chance that you will become friends. This, in turn, will help enrich your life.
For many people, running a business is a lonely, stressful endeavor, especially if they are entrepreneurs or sole proprietors. Networking allows you to socialize AND do business at the same time – a true win-win situation.
BONUS 1 – Business Networking Helps Get Your Mind Off Your Problems
Whether you love or hate meeting new people, networking can help you forget about the real world for a while. Often the pressure of day-to-day business can wear you down to the point of sapping away your motivation and your inspiration. Why do you think so many business people spend so much time on social media? It’s an escape disguised as business activity.
Networking can also act as an escape, but it’s one that is constructive. It gets you away from your business problems. Even if you hate being sociable, the change of scenery and the act of talking to others can be liberating – even if temporary.
Meeting up with people in your network may even provide a solution to at least some of your problems. After all, if you have been there for them in the past, they will more likely than not return the favor when you are in need.
And what better way is there to relax and unwind (and perhaps blow off some steam) while at the same time building up your business relationships?
BONUS 2 – It Allows You to Test the Water
Networking allows you to test the water with new business ideas and get knowledgeable feedback from people who are savvy and know something about business. This lets you refine or rework your ideas before spending too much time or money on them.
What is more, you may find that some of your network connections can help personally, or they know someone who could help bring your idea to fruition. You may even find collaborators or investors among your network connections.
BONUS 3 – It’s Inexpensive
Compared to paid solutions, networking done properly and consistently can have an ROI that’s off the charts.
Sure, if you belong to networking organizations or have memberships with online networking websites, the fees you pay would be a consideration. You will also have to shell out for the cost of a few relationship-building after-work drinks, coffees or lunches.
And one or two sizable purchases through your network connections will more than compensate for everything you spend on maintaining your network.
In the long run, the benefits of investing in your business network will far outweigh the expense.
Just like avocados, rooibos tea and yoga have numerous benefits for body and spirit, the 18 points listed above should demonstrate just how good business networking is for you, your business reputation and the potential of your business.
According to Hubspot, 25% of business people don’t do any networking. So, one additional benefit is that just by doing a little networking, you put yourself ahead of 25% of the business world!
So get out there, revitalize old network connections and start making some new ones! Your business will thank you for it.