There is one part of my job that I love: meeting new business owners and hearing about their businesses. Now when I say “new business owners” I mean new to me. I think I like it because there are so many businesses I love to frequent and getting to talk to the owners and listen to their troubles and stories is like opening a door to a secret world. Recently though it came to my attention that there are lots of entrepreneurs out there that hate networking. In fact they hate it so much that they don’t do any networking at all. I am here to tell you that if you want your business to succeed you have to network.
I understand the fear, distaste, etc. that people have for networking. Going to an event and having to meet strangers can be overwhelming to say the least. But if you want your small business to grow or if you want your startup to get off the ground, networking is a necessary evil.
Networking accomplishes two things for your business: 1) it helps you connect to potential new customers and clients and 2) it helps you connect to others that can help your business through their services or connections.
Grand Rapids and West Michigan are filled with all kinds of different networking events. There are groups that get together that are industry specific, area or community specific and generic business groups. There are also a number of professionals that have created programs and educate people how to network.
There is no secret to networking either. There are strategies and systems that you can follow to help you meet more people or make better connections. Being sure to be genuine and real is the important part. Think of it more as a social get together and you just want to get to know people better. People want to connect (and will also listen better) to someone that isn’t trying to make a hard sale right from the get go.
Finding those connections to new customers and clients as well as connecting with those that can help you out is invaluable. Every business owner wants more customers. But what about finding an accountant or a small business coach or a business lawyer? Are you going to the internet (or the phone book) for something that important? Or would you rather use someone that you have met with a few times and you know more than an online profile can provide?
Your Grand Rapids small business is so important to you. And you put in so much hard work in making it the best business it can be. Why would you let your own trepidations limit how high your business can go? The best connection your business can have, you might not even know if out there but networking opens the door to meet that person.