There is a well known saying that states “it takes a village to raise a child”, and we believe this is absolutely true. We deal with many business owners who treat their businesses like their babies, and if you need a village to raise a baby then it only seems right that you need a network to raise a business. This article has been written to help you realise the need for a business network, and how to go about building a good one.
Support and Guidance
For those who build a business from the ground up, those first few months / years until you take on your first employee can be a really lonely place to be, and being alone for long periods of time is definitely not conducive to building up a business. By surrounding yourself with like-minded business owners you will give yourself the opportunity to tap into their business experiences, which will undoubtedly give you ideas to help push your business forward. Similarly, you can help them come up with solutions to problems they are having in their businesses. It is very relieving to find out that you are not the only one who faces business challenges.
We believe that it is vitally important to have advocates in your industry. We would encourage collaboration over competition if you want your business to succeed. Have you ever found yourself with a large job that you were unable to handle alone? Or maybe you have said yes to a piece of work you haven’t had experience with before? Wouldn’t it be great if you had a relationship with someone within your industry that you could call upon to help you out? You never know who is open to collaboration until you contact them and ask. You never know, it might turn out that even though you are in the same industry, you may be targeting a different customer base which actually means your businesses work really well in unison? This could give your business an edge over your direct competitors and could also be an ongoing stream of business referrals in the future.
Increase your contact sphere
Everyone has their own contact sphere. As one individual you will only be able to maintain meaningful relationships with a finite amount of people. However, as soon as you add another person into the mix, your contact sphere widens and so does your opportunities for increased business. If you create a relationship with someone where they know, like and trust you, that person is much more willing to refer you to people within their own contact sphere when the need for your good or service arises. These types of relationships are ultimately essential to the sustainable growth of a new business.
Networking and referral marketing
There are an abundance of networking and referral marketing associations out there, so it is important to experience a few and find out which one suits not only your business, but you as a person. Generally speaking a lot of free networking events and organisations revolve around the informal networking concept, whereby you put a lot of business owners in a room in the hope that they will all talk to each other and pass business between them. This approach can be very hit and miss, with a lot of business owners walking away feeling like they have just wasted their time.
A referral marketing organisation (such as BNI) works on the concept of building meaningful business relationships through regular meetings which encourage the know, like and trust concept. Members of these organisations are required to contribute to the group, mainly through the giving of business referrals, which will then result in those referrals being returned to you. Although there is a small informal networking section to the meeting structure, there is a formal meeting where rules are implemented and followed. If you are not a person who likes rules, structure or formality then BNI probably isn’t the place for you, because although BNI can work for every business, it doesn’t necessarily work for every person.
In conclusion we would say that taking the time to establish meaningful business relationships will definitely pay dividends in the future, and will go a long way to making your new business a sustainable success. You never know, you might also meet some great friends along the way.
We wish you lots of luck in the search for your village, and if you would like us to be a part of it then please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01634 540340.