The term “networking” is often confused with Network Marketing but they are totally different. The root of networking is to build mutually beneficial relationships that can lead to personal and professional success.
Misconceptions About Networking
Many people cringe at the idea of attending networking events because they associate it with “putting on a face” and “schmoozing” with people you don’t know. On the other hand, there are people who see networking as an opportunity to hand out as many of your own business cards as possible in a short time. These concepts will prevent you from taking advantage of the opportunities networking offers and may require a change in attitude for you to be successful.
Do I Need To Attend Networking Events?
1) If you are a small business owner, solo-professional, or entrepreneur with an offline business, attending networking events in your area is essential. I was a member of a local Chapter of an international networking organization and from time to time I’d hear comments from local business owners that they tried networking and it did not work for them.
At the heart of networking is building relationships, and it takes time to build relationships. People have to get to know, like and trust you before they’re willing to give you their business or recommend people from their network to you. Networking is a long-term process, and in order to reap the benefits, you must be prepared to give it time.
2) If you have a business online, networking is another way you can connect with people in your local community and help them to get to know what you do online.
As online business owners we often forget that we also need to market our business offline, and networking provides another opportunity to do so.
The post “Tools for Marketing Your Online Business Offline” highlighted the importance of online business owners having business cards to showcase their business and let people know how they can help them. Attending networking events is another place where your business cards will be useful; however, your goal should not be to hand out as many business cards as possible in as little tile as possible, as they’ll likely end up in people’s garbage. You goal is to make connections and build relationships.
Keep in mind that as you build relationships, you are widening your network. At these events you can offer to teach a class, host a teleseminar, or provide any other type of service that is needed. These will demonstrate your expertise and confirm you as an expert, which will in turn give you more credibility.
The true value of networking is going with an attitude to give more than you receive, but the long-term result is that you will often get more than you give.