Everything is a network. Our bodies, our societies, even the universe is an invisible network of radiation invisible to the naked eye.
Over the years, networking as a concept has been gathering dust. Subconsciously, we have all been networking at a micro-level. When you ask your friend to recommend your skills or business to somebody – that is a form or micro networking.
“When we talk to people, we get more ideas, we open up a dialogue, and even find solutions to challenges that may be stopping us from achieving great success.”
Over 60% of smart businesses today rely on networking for a variety of reasons:
- Scale their existing business
- Gain knowledge on starting a business
- Raise funds for business operations
- Hire and onboard talented people for their business
- Solve business challenges
- Make meaningful partnerships
- Earn recommendations and more
What is Networking?
Networking just means staying connected in a business network with people who belong to similar or related industries, skills or business backgrounds.
There are umpteen benefits of Networking. Here are some common stats that show the impact of Networking:
- 36% – Boost in Creativity
- 43% – Increases learning without distractions
- 57% – Better chances of landing referrals
- 68% – Improved connects to a mentor
Why should small businesses network?
Networking is not just about chatting up like-minded people. For that, you can throw a party! Networking is an inexpensive way to get your business moving upward! Some benefits of networking include:
Meeting individuals from different walks of life and business allows your network to be the perfect platform to bounce off new ideas and gain more insights.
New contacts and referrals:
Meet potential clients and/or generate referrals. Helps you identify opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures, or new areas of expansion for your business.
Attending offline events, online conferences, meetups and other networking events raise your personal profile and can help people remember you at the right moment.
You can find solutions to any business problem by networking. For example: if your business needs help with bookkeeping or legal advice, you might find the ideal hire for that department via networking. If your business needs funding, you may be able to find an angel investor or venture capitalist through networking channels.
Sharing knowledge and experience
Listen to the experts when you network. Taking advantage of the experiences of others before you invest time and money in a particular venture can be invaluable.
Boost Confidence and morale
Business professionals are optimistic and excited to share their experiences with you. Regularly associating with such people can be a great morale boost, particularly in the difficult early phases of starting a new business.
If you are not the ideal extrovert in a business, regularly meeting new people can boost your confidence and you could make new friends on the way!
The purpose of business networking is to increase business revenue – one way or another. The thickening of the bottom line can be immediately apparent. You can assess immediate results when you see relationships developing with a new client, or learning a new business skill/growth hacks.
Where do small businesses go to network?
Conferences and events:
Get into the habit of regularly attending breakfasts, seminars, lectures and lunches that are held by various groups. These events are usually advertised in newspapers, business and trade magazines or online. You can invite others in your field or from your local circle to attend as well.
Ahem! Do not step out during COVID! Instead, go virtual – here’s a complete guide to conducting virtual hangouts and events in 2020.
If you’re too busy to attend lots of events, focus on developing relationships with just 3 or 4 key people. Strengthen your relationship with contacts you have a good rapport with. Consider contacts who might face similar challenges to you and work out how you might be able to help each other.
It’s a good idea to join networking groups run through industry associations. Joining these groups will help you keep up to date with changes in your industry, and will get you invited to networking events.
Joining networking groups will give you a chance to meet people from a wide range of small- to medium-sized businesses. Contact your industry association and business contacts or search online, for example on the Meetup website, to find out a networking group that suits you.
Personal contacts and social events:
Networking through friends and family can be a great way to establish strong business relationships.
You might meet someone who could be useful for your business, or someone whose business you can help, at a social event. If you develop a rapport with them and exchange contact details, you can then arrange a more official meeting with them later.
Online social networking sites (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) are useful tools for businesses to create networks (with other businesses and industry associations) and follow up with new contacts.
Connecting with your industry online will help you keep up to date with events. You can also sign up to online newsletters from industry associations and other businesses and receive regular updates about events and opportunities.
Online Social Media Networking:
Treat online/social media networking with the same importance as traditional face-to-face networking.
Start with Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram to develop your primary community base. Find out different groups on social media channels and pitch your business idea to them.
Broaden your options by joining more than one network or group, either online, via social media, or through industry and business associations. Consider joining groups that your customers or suppliers belong to. You can also:
- Start an email newsletter for your business so you can keep your customers, suppliers and other contacts up to date with your activities and invite them to your own events.
- When sending out bulk emails, make sure you are not breaching any spam laws.
- Learn more about doing business online – take free courses from sites like Coursera
How does Instamojo Build Network?
Besides having a fleet of networking experts within the team, Instamojo has built networks across the globe – starting with the Indian MSME sector. How do we do this?
1. mojoMeets: Our monthly meetups with entrepreneurs who work tirelessly to redefine the startup game in India. mojoMeets explores talent and business minds in tier 2 cities.
2. mojoStores: Our favourite stores for the month. Our online store on Instamojo features brands and companies with exciting products and services – so we pick some and feature them on our blog!
3. mojoMakers: Stories of our sellers – their brand, their promise to their customers and their vision. Watch their videos here:
Not only do we promote small businesses trying to make a difference this way, but we also encourage other businesses to create an increased online presence in today’s digital world!
So, when do you plan to join our network?