As a business owner, what you know sometimes isn’t as important as who you know. It’s true that making good professional connections can help you get further in your career and bring you more professional opportunities. If you want your business to grow and succeed, then networking and getting your name out there can be just as important as improving your knowledge and skills. If you are just starting out as a business owner, then building your professional network can be daunting. The good news is that today, networking isn’t always stiff business conferences and suits. There are lots of ways to make meaningful connections with like-minded professionals.
Take a Course
Going back to education can be an ideal way to learn more as a business owner, and it can be a good way to build your professional network at the same time. There are lots of different course and program options that you might be interested in, from short courses that focus on a specific subject to undergraduate or even graduate degree programs in business.
Studying is a great way to improve your professional network as it grants you access to people from many different backgrounds and locations that you will be studying alongside. If you’re too busy to take time out of your business to attend lectures, then you might want to consider a distance learning program like the DBA online from Aston University. You’ll still be able to network virtually through chat rooms and forums.
These days, networking online has taken over and it’s much easier to make new professional connections compared to in the past. As a business owner, it’s a good idea to use social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, which are designed for professional networking. Spend some time building your profile and searching for other professionals who you would be interested in connecting with. Social media can be a great way to find new clients, learn new things, and even find your next business partner. Post regularly and share things that your network is likely to be interested in, whether that’s curated content or content that you have created yourself.
Traditional networking might have been massively reduced throughout the COVID19 pandemic, but things are starting to get back to normal and many professionals are excited to get back out there and make new connections in person instead of doing everything remotely. The best thing about getting yourself out there to attend events and network in person right now is that after the pandemic, there are tons of new businesses and new entrepreneurs who are looking to meet others, so you are sure to have a social experience and make plenty of connections that could flourish into something further for both of your professional lives in the future. Trade shows, business conferences, and other business events are a great way to meet other local business owners and business professionals.
Arrange an Event
If you can’t find any events that are happening near you that you would like to attend or are able to go to, then it might be worth arranging an event of your own. You can plan any kind of event that you like from small, friendly networking meet-ups in a local restaurant to a bigger conference. Arranging your own event is a great way to build your professional network as the fact that you’re the one behind it all means you’ll definitely get your name out there.
And the best part is that arranging a business networking event means you can also get more exposure for your business. You could even sponsor the event with your brand, putting it out there in front of more business professionals, many of whom might be investors or potential clients.
Join a Professional Association
If you are running a business in an industry that has a lot of professional associations, then these can not only be helpful for getting qualifications and credentials, but you can also use the association to improve your connections and widen your professional network. Along with job boards and short courses that you can take as a professional or business owner, many professional networks also have forums or social media groups that you can become a part of to meet like-minded people and make new connections.
Improve Your Networking Skills
If you are shy, or simply aren’t sure where to start when it comes to networking then this could get in the way of making more professional connections. Before you start putting yourself out there and networking, it’s a good idea to spend some time improving your networking skills. You can find short online courses on communication skills or even focus solely on networking to help you get better at this. As you put your new skills into practice and start making even more professional connections, your confidence will soar, and you might find that this helps you to broaden your network even further and reach out to people that you may have never thought to reach out to previously.
To build a successful network, you will need to be proactive. Not only will you need to be the first to go over and introduce yourself at networking events, but you’ll also probably have to send the first message when networking online quite a lot too. However, it’s also important to be proactive in making sure that you are the type of person that other professionals want to network with. By making it clear when it comes to what you are looking for and what you have to offer to professional connections, you may be more likely to get more replies, and have more people contacting you to connect first.
Finally, be proactive when it comes to following up – always get contact details of the people that you speak to at events and follow up if you don’t hear from them again after a couple of days.
Whether you are new to running your own business or have been an entrepreneur for a while, taking the time to build and improve on your professional network is always worthwhile.