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The Most Important Things to Gain From Networking

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The Most Important Things to Gain From Networking

Networking events provide a great opportunity to promote your business and make introductions to further your entrepreneurial goals, but there is another sort of connection that is often overlooked.

Small Businesses make up a large part of our community, and among those Small Businesses are a significant number of micro businesses and small ventures that operate from home offices and converted garages across the country.

Despite the number of connections those business owners may have on social media, their daily interaction with humans on a face-to-face basis is likely to be quite limited. They may be quite happy with that arrangement because it allows them to focus on growing their business and investing time in their clients.

So, what’s the problem?

Being focused on our work is definitely important, but there is a very real risk that the form of isolation we create for that purpose, exposes us to two conditions that may jeopardise our livelihood:

1. Stagnation.

All Small Businesses have a job on their hands to remain competitive, and front of mind in their particular industry. It’s important to know your industry back-to-front and inside-out. But there’s always something new to learn, and other humans are a good source of information.

It might be a chat with someone in a similar industry that highlights procedural changes, or a conversation with the client of a competitor that confirms you’re on the right track, but talking with people is a great way to keep you motivated and prevent stagnation.

2. Loneliness.

Working from home can be quite lonely. Sometimes we don’t realise how isolating it can be until we have a good chat with another business owner or two, and benefit from the moral support that can be found in a problem shared.

I avoided business events for a long time because I wasn’t always in a sales-pitch frame of mind. I was keen to chat, but not necessarily about business. I was interested in hearing from others but didn’t want to be thinking about what I could sell them or what I might be being sold.

But I persisted until I found a couple of groups that were a good fit for me. I generally attend events for the purpose of social interaction. Opportunities to talk business frequently arise, but I consider the social connection far more valuable.

“Instead of opening a conversation with a pitch, just ask someone how their week has been, and see what happens.”

Small Business owners are multi-faceted.

Many of us have children, families and commitments that extend us to our limits sometimes and talking about that helps. Not only for the ‘talker’ but also for the ‘listener’.

It’s good to know that we are not alone in what might be a particularly trying time. Others have similar experiences; illnesses, ageing parents, financial challenges, and if we never venture out to talk to these people, it’s very easy to believe that we are alone.

Where to start?

Reading articles and exchanging ideas online will only take us so far in the pursuit of industry knowledge and real connection. It’s a great place to start, but the advantages offered by face to face contact and conversations that aren’t limited by word-count or typing skills, are worth the extra effort.

  • LinkedIn Local.

Look for online groups that also have an ‘in real life’ component. LinkedIn Local is an example. It’s a global movement with regional groups whose primary goal is to continue their online conversations offline and build more connected relationships. They hold regular events that enable people to meet and talk in person.

  • Business Chambers.

Another easy option is to join your local Chamber of Commerce. They’ll likely offer a number of benefits to promote your business, but the most important aspect (from my point of view) is that they’ll hold regular events, usually in a range of formats, where you can both learn and connect with other business owners.

There are lots of other groups who host events, so do a bit of research into what’s happening in your region and involve yourself.

It doesn’t have to be about pitching your business – just connect.

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“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"



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