Networking for entrepreneurs is one of the most vital skill sets that you will learn. Being an entrepreneur is so much more than focusing on your business, thinking of ways to expand it, and learning new things. It’s so much more involved than spreadsheets and numbers. The most successful entrepreneurs have significant connections. They talk with other business owners, partners, and customers to ensure that they can deliver the best possible experience. Many times these friendly conversations result in mutually beneficial business relationships that result in a stable, successful business.
Stellar entrepreneurs are continually networking as they’re looking for new contacts, new leads, and new vendors. Networking has five benefits, in particular, for entrepreneurs.
Table of Contents:
- Networking Enhances Business Goals For Entrepreneurs
- Networking Opens Doors For New Opportunities
- Networking Can Result in Startup Funding
- Networking Helps Entrepreneurs Continuing Education
- Networking Helps Startups Gain Visibility
Networking Enhances Business Goals For Entrepreneurs
The most substantial and most straightforward networking benefit is that it will further your business goals. Networking for entrepreneurs provides an opportunity to find valuable contacts in your area and industry that you can leverage in the future for mutual benefit.
For entrepreneurs, there are typically four types of contacts. There are informational contacts, potential clients, or potential vendors and potential investors.
Informational contacts are people that you’re not going to buy from or will sell to, but you can exchange beneficial information. Maybe this person is an up-and-coming entrepreneur with a new startup with whom you can exchange struggles and triumphs. Perhaps you meet a tax specialist with whom you can call up and ask some tax questions. Many contacts share information and advance each others’ business goals mutually.
You may also network with potential clients. Clients advance your business’ objectives in an obvious way – they buy from you! For example, you may be an architect attending a fundraiser and meet a couple looking to build a new home. Networking for entrepreneurs provides those excellent opportunities to find clients informally and without any sales tactics.
Thirdly, you can also find potential vendors. You might be ordering your widgets from supplier X and meet the owner of supplier Y at a conference. Maybe they can produce your widgets for a 30% discount. You can use that money to invest more in advertising and grow your business to the next level. Those are also connections that you can make when you get out there and network!
Finally, you can connect with potential investors and get warm introductions. In addition, if you are always distributing valuable information and articles on sites like LinkedIn then potential investors can learn about you and when they see you pop up more and more they might begin to interact with you. Reaching out to connect with them is fairly straight forward form there and can lead to more introductions or actual investment in your startup.
In addition to furthering your current business’ goals, networking can create those “aha” moments that open up the door for new and exciting opportunities.
You might meet an inspiring entrepreneur who discusses an idea with you. Maybe you agree to work with them, and it opens the door to an entirely new market that you hadn’t considered previously. Many entrepreneurs have taken their businesses into new directions and explored new markets as the result of discussions made at networking events.
One of the best events that entrepreneurs can attend is a conference in their industry sector. Most industries, from real estate to tech, have meetings in which all sorts of businesses come together to discuss events, and share knowledge. An example of this would be CES in the consumer electronics space. These conferences are excellent opportunities to network with other like-minded entrepreneurs and businesses who can open the doors to new opportunities.
If you’re looking for inspiration to grow your business to the next level, networking for entrepreneurs is the best way to do that!
Networking Can Result in Funding
During the early days of a business, they are often reliant upon external funding to survive. Most companies don’t turn a profit immediately. Instead, investors – often angel investors – take an interest in the business and bet their money on it.
There are a few different ways to find investors, but one of the most tried-and-true methods is to network with other entrepreneurs and investors. There are events in which companies come and pitch their businesses to angel investors. Going to these events can, of course, result in finding funding. However, more than that, they provide the opportunity to network and receive valuable feedback on your business idea and business model. The only way that you’ll be able to receive this feedback is to network at these types of events.
Networking with angel investors has an additional benefit of expanding your business network further. Angel investors are often some of the most well-connected people in the industry and have extensive experience in building businesses that thrive. Their knowledge and expertise are valuable, but so is their network. Once you attract the interest of an angel investor, they can often introduce you to new business contacts that have the potential to propel your business higher.
If your business is looking for investors, consider getting out there and networking. You never know who might know someone wanting to invest, or who might be able to invest in your business themselves!
Networking For Entrepreneurs Can Help Owners Gain Knowledge
Knowledge is one of the most valuable assets any entrepreneur can have. There are multiple types of experience that an entrepreneur can have. There’s knowledge of how to manage a business’ day-to-day operations. There’s the skill of being able to manage finances. Still, there’s knowledge in markets, forecasts, and other areas of the business operations.
Networking can help with all these aspects of knowledge. It provides an excellent opportunity to share experiences about potential pitfalls and things that you have in common. Remember, that other entrepreneurs have made the same mistakes that you have made (and they’ve recovered from them), or they have made the same mistake that you’re about to make. Either way, gaining insight into their thinking, demeanor, and business ideas will help you avoid these potential pitfalls in the future.
Being an entrepreneur is much harder than it looks at times. Having a group of people with whom you have networked to share experiences and knowledge is invaluable to keeping you focused on your objectives. It can also be valuable in that the comments and lessons from another entrepreneur can help save you from making a terrible mistake later on!
It Also Helps Owners Gain Visibility
As an entrepreneur, you also probably already know the importance of being visible. Getting your name out there and getting the name of your business in front of the right eyes can open up a world of opportunities. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t realize the value of being visible. They may tend to focus on the core competencies of their business (like a software startup with an owner that just wants to code) without focusing on the visibility of their enterprise.
There are two types of visibility. Business owners gain visibility from customers via advertising, whether that be online, in print, or on the TV. No matter how they advertise, they bring customers in via creative, catchy ads.
Aspiring entrepreneurs also need visibility in the business community. If you are regularly attending events in the market space, other entrepreneurs will quickly recognize you as the authority in your business space. You might be the person they go to for advice and tips, and, in exchange, when you need help, they’ll reciprocate the favor.
Making yourself visible in the entrepreneurial community is one of the best ways to ensure that you also have contacts if you start up another business. You might not be with the company you first founded (maybe you sold that one for a profit), but when you start up your follow-up business, people will already know you as a successful entrepreneur. If you build and sell the company in the dark, then people won’t recognize your business acumen when you launch the second enterprise.
Get out there and promote yourself and your company. Network so that people recognize you and your skills!
In Conclusion: Networking For Entrepreneurs Has Multiple Overlapping Benefits
For entrepreneurs, networking has multiple benefits. It advances business goals. Whether you’re looking to conquer new markets or find a cheaper supplier, networking is often the best way to start on those objectives. Networking can also open up the doors for new opportunities. If you discuss your business with the right people, it can also result in funding as well (which can be critical for early-stage companies). When you get out and network, you also share knowledge. You receive help in avoiding pitfalls, and it provides you the opportunity to give back by helping others avoid ones you’ve already experienced. Finally, it raises your visibility – not just the visibility of your current company but the visibility of yourself as a talented entrepreneur!
In today’s world, networking is not optional – it’s pretty much a requirement if you want to grow your business. Finding the right people to learn and grow from is essential if you want your business not just to survive, but thrive. Whether you’ve just started a business or you have a successful business already but just haven’t gotten out there into the community, you should consider finding a meetup or conference to join. There’s a good chance that, by networking, you will find yourself and your company in a much better spot than before!