What to do when networking efforts fail

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Networking is an integral part of running a small business, facilitating relationship development, customer acquisition, and business expansion. However, professional networking can be daunting for small business owners. Engaging in professional networking can be a challenge for a startup, but it can be critical to its success.

For people who have spent much of their careers in corporate settings, making new connections and improving your professional network are crucial to achieving your small business goals. As a business owner, it can be difficult to identify people within your intimate circle. It is critical to your success as a small business owner to develop your network, whether in person at networking meetings or virtually.

Related: 5 Surprising Benefits of Professional Networking You Need to Know

Networking is essential to find entrepreneurial support and contacts with customers

Networking plays an important role in the entrepreneurial process as it is an effective method for small business owners to establish new relationships and acquire new customers. Entrepreneurs can make connections with others in their field, gain valuable support and insights, and ultimately improve their prospects for achieving success.

Let’s look at the facts. An MIT study shows that college-educated entrepreneurs who had large, active alumni networks were more successful, measured by the number of employees and revenue associated with the companies they started. Furthermore, according to research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, for 78% of startups, networking is vital to entrepreneurial success.

For all interviewees, active networking seems to have a positive impact on the performance of their businesses: the greater the number of networking activities in which entrepreneurs engage – the study finds – the greater the possibility of having a positive return in terms of profitability, revenue growth, innovation, capitalization and talent.

“All great companies, even those with iconic entrepreneurs, had many other people involved, and without whom the company might not have become as big,” says Harvard Business School professor Bill Sahlman in the online course Entrepreneurship Essentials.

Related: 3 Powerful Networking Strategies That Never Fail

It’s okay to shake things up a bit!

If some of your recent networking efforts have proven effective, you should continue with these strategies. But if your current networking strategies have proven ineffective, that simply indicates it’s time to shake things up a bit.

Consider the following:

  1. Participate in your community: Getting involved in your community as a business owner is a great way to contribute, establish fruitful business relationships, and expand the reach of your small business. It’s crucial to get involved in a business that meets your personal values ​​and beliefs and that you are genuinely excited about.

  2. Identify ways to increase your activity level: Volunteer to serve on a committee or assist in planning and executing an event. It will change both who you interact with and how you engage with the organization. Improving your visibility is another benefit; shows that you are an engaged leader and participant.

  3. Make connections with the right people: Do you feel like you’re meeting the right people, but not connecting? Invite them to participate in activities that you and they share, such as fishing, tennis, running, or eating. Attending fun community events, like a farmers market or music festival, is another way to connect with your network and give back to the local community.

  4. Find out what your loyal consumers frequent: Is there a particular industry or field you want to build your customer base in? Consider the organizations and events in those areas. Plan ahead for some events that you would like to attend for the rest of the year, so that you don’t have to rush to change your schedule for the rest of the year.

  5. Start online if you’re not a natural in-person networker: Consider joining some new LinkedIn groups that require active participation. You might decide to launch a podcast with one (or more!) of your clients, or seek article placements for the drop in trade publications where you aspire to be considered an authority. Alternatively, you may be more enthusiastic about writing or speaking.

Networking is an extremely beneficial tool for optimizing the growth and success opportunities of small businesses. As an entrepreneur, improving your business opportunities through networking is an indispensable skill. Making connections with industry experts expands your professional network, which can include potential clients, mentors and contacts.

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