Networking, you either thrive off it or you find making new connections challenging. If you fall into the latter group and find networking a chore, you may want to consider pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Making new connections with local operators, motivators or those in a similar market can have an extremely positive impact on your business! You can’t sell a secret, it is important to get out and about and spread the word about what you do for a living – and it doesn’t have to be spouting about how great you are!
Networking isn’t always an organised “business” event.
Networking is simply about making new connections, which may or may not lead to an increased awareness of your business. Local business events are great and are often attended by other like-minded business owners looking to grow and learn, but networking can also be done at your kids’ Saturday sports, local charity events or through sponsorship.
Social media is a form of new-age business networking.
Social, social, social. We hear a lot about how great it can be for business, but this is usually from a sales growth perspective. Don’t overlook social media groups and online events as a way to network with others in your industry or local community. Even making a few contacts online can open doors to new sales opportunities or motivation. Simply search Facebook for groups and forums in your local area or your industry and you’ll see plenty of networking chat happening online!
Networking is always motivational, even if it is just through sharing experiences and the common challenges of running a small business.
I try to attend several regular local business events in Whangarei, usually Business After 5 and Whangarei Business Woman’s Network events. These get-togethers are a great place to connect with like-minded small business owners who are striving to achieve similar goals to us at Villa. Sharing experiences with wins and losses and even just chatting with others about the similar challenges we face in business mean I often take some great takeaways from each event.
Business events aren’t always full of people ready to tell you how great they are.
Local business or market specific events are no longer a room full of people listening to someone speak about how successful they are. Sure, there may be keynote speakers but you’ll find that these people have a story to tell about challenges faced and overcome within their business or market. You may find that you draw knowledge from the similar challenges they have faced within their business.
Local business networking events are about networking and not selling.
A common worry before heading to a networking type event is that you’ll spend a day or evening dodging the sales advances of either organisers or other delegates. Usually, a local business mixer is just that – an event designed to introduce like-minded business owners and to discuss the direction of the local economy, local markets or expand their businesses through making new contacts.
There are some great Northland business events coming up, one that stands out for its potential to motivate by seeing other small businesses succeed is The Pick (http://thepick.co.nz/). This event includes seminars for start-ups and growing businesses, with mentors and experts from a range of different industries sharing their knowledge. Another is the 2018 Westpac Northland Business Excellence Awards (https://northlandbusinessawards.co.nz/) where the success of local Northland businesses is celebrated.