The Top 5 Reasons to Attend a Networking Event
Networking is the cornerstone to small business growth. Entrepreneurs will hardly find a better return on investment (ROI) for their time (and money) than a professional networking event. Many business networking events are free to attend or at the most, very low-cost. They provide advantageous marketing opportunities for those lacking the capital necessary for launching a major advertising campaign, and for those without an existing, broad social reach. Networking events take many forms ranging from rigidly structured meetings to casual get-togethers. These might be group breakfasts, lunchtime events, or evening cocktail hours at a local bar or restaurant. Finding a networking event isn’t overly difficult; you can find local professional networking events simply by performing a web search, asking your existing social network for suggestions, or by going directly to websites like BNI, Meetup, or Eventbrite to discover already-scheduled meetings – just to name a few. Business networking events provide a great deal of value and are open to anyone interesting in growing their business; here at the top five reasons you should attend a professional business networking event:
Topping the list, making connections is the single-most important thing you can do to grow your small business. You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. There’s quite a bit of truth to that. Business networking events give you a platform to showcase your business to a room full of successful and motivated people, all of whom are eager to help you succeed. They may require your services personally, and they can refer you to other people they know, outside of the group, who might as well. Usually the attendees of networking meetings take their reputations and that of the group seriously, meaning those referrals are generally of high-quality and will likely result in revenue.
The connections you make at professional business networking events are navigating the waters of entrepreneurship same as you – if you have challenges facing your business, they are the people you should, and can, ask for (free) advice. One of the benefits of a networking group is the positive group-mentality fostered. You’ll soon discover that the people you meet are just as interested in helping you grow, as they are in their own professional growth; the stronger the group is as a whole, the better off the individual members will be as well. These events provide fantastic opportunities for bouncing ideas off other motivated professionals, practicing your elevator speech (and tweaking it, if necessary), and asking for advice on business strategy or obstacles you’ve encountered in a casual, no-pressure, and friendly setting.
A successful business networking event can infuse you with the motivation to conquer your day in a way few other things can. Much stronger than even the boldest cup of coffee, the shared electric energy of a professional business networking meeting is a motivator like none other. Additionally, some networking groups will host skilled motivational speakers, or other successful persons who are willing to share their tips and ideas on success freely, helping you discover new methods or concepts you may not have been exposed to otherwise. More than likely you’ll leave your networking event with enhanced vigor and energy helping you to approach the business world head-on, tackling any challenges that come your way.
Not every entrepreneur is highly extroverted, and that’s ok. A natural inclination to introversion, or even just a lack of experience in approaching others, can create challenges for those who have formed their own business and now have to generate their own leads. Business networking meetings provide opportunities to meet many new people and to publicly speak in front of them in a comfortable, small-group environment, helping you gain the experience necessary to project heightened levels of confidence. Pushing yourself to meet new people, exceeding your own social boundaries, will help you feel more comfortable the next time you pitch a client or another business; the confidence you embody will definitely help sell your product.
For many small business owners the concepts of weekends, evenings, and vacations are completely foreign. When you’re running your own business (and often wearing many different hats in order to do so) it can be very difficult to get out and meet new people, maintain your existing personal relationships, or get away when you need some rest and relaxation. There’s truth to the statement, popularized in film, that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. A business networking event can perform more than just a professional function; it can be your opportunity to unwind a bit as well. Most of these meetings are peppered with laughter, jokes, and are overly positive, giving you the opportunity for a laugh and a chance to relax. After the meeting you might connect with people for social and business conversation, and you can make new friends who share your hectic lifestyle and understand your many commitments.
Networking events are not for those who just want to see how much they can get out of the group; they are about connecting people with a shared desire of helping each other to grow in their professional endeavors. With so many free and low-cost events at your fingertips, the decision of whether or not to attend is simple; the only challenge you’ll face is determining which type of event works best for you, and for your industry. Even if you meet only one valuable connection at each meeting, it is well worth your time to have attended. I highly recommend getting out there to see what a professional business networking event can do for you – maybe I’ll see you there!