Updated: Jan 10
Starting and running a business is often seen as an exciting endeavour, but many aspiring entrepreneurs find themselves struggling to keep things going. Investopedia notes that by the first year, 20% of small businesses will have failed. There are many reasons why these ventures are unsuccessful, but one factor is poor business health; they might often be hanging by a thread due to suboptimal performance.
As a business owner, the challenges you may be facing could be exacerbated by the fact that you and your staff are running things independently with little guidance. This is where networking can come into play. By building relationships and forming connections, you gain more leverage to really get your business off the ground.
Networking connects you to individuals of different positions, varying levels of experience, and diverse skills learned from various industries. Establishing good relationships with other businesses can allow you access to their skills and insights, giving you a leg up to improve and navigate through challenges. For instance, they can inspire you on what new technologies can make your operations more efficient. An exchange of ideas can provide involved parties with beneficial information — a win-win situation on all ends.
These relationships can also provide you with more business opportunities, as the people you meet can connect you with potential partners, clients, or other entrepreneurs and businesses you can build relationships with. With these strong connections, more influential players in your industry may be interested in your company and could reach out to you.
Collecting these relationships and using them only when it’s convenient or beneficial to you isn't enough. The connections you make from networking should be based on mutual benefit and trust. Here are some ways you and your staff can network effectively:
Preparation is key
Our post called “Most Businesses Won't Even Get Off the Ground” highlights that businesses often fail due to under-preparedness. If you don’t equip yourself with the proper tools or knowledge, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep up with changes and challenges. The same goes for networking; trying to connect with another business without proper research or understanding what they’re about will likely turn them away from helping or partnering with you. You’ll lose a key player in elevating your business as it grows.
Bring in the whole team
It’s not just business owners who need networking skills, but employees do too. One networking tip writer Jane Adamson has for startups is to train your team to build these essential connections. Remind your employees that, when networking, you’re selling your concept and yourself. Staff who can connect and socialise well while representing the business can put your best foot forward as a business, allowing other companies to see your vision and goals clearly.
Use social media
Social media is proving to help connect businesses with customers, but you can also use it to reach out to other businesses. That way, you can now reach beyond your borders and build relationships with people all over the country or world. Entrepreneur Blake Michael suggests diversifying your social media platforms to reach more users in out-of-the-box ways. It can help you engage other businesses and potential clients, allowing them to see how you present your company and what it stands for.