“If your business comes from relationships, relationships should be your business.”
– Doug Ales
Operating a small business often feels like a 24/7 commitment. And, because time is money, attending events may not rank high on your list of mission critical, revenue-producing activities. We’d all probably agree, however, that building a strong professional network is essential to business success. So, attending events may actually be the missing piece in your business development puzzle.
Event attendance comes with significant benefits that may help you to grow your business. The good news is events, unlike a multivitamin, don’t require a daily dosage. Who’s got time for that!? The better news is, once you identify the “right” [I repeat, right] events and master your connection strategy, a monthly dose will do ya.
Check out these 5 compelling reasons to attend networking events:
1. Increase Your Visibility
Attending business networking events is an essential component of your marketing strategy. Share your organization’s mission, vision and passion with like-minded individuals. Doing so will help build brand awareness. Regular attendance at the same networking event will position you to build longer-term, mutually beneficial relationships; an essential element as you work to develop a reputation as a credible resource in your core competency.
2. Tap into Best Practices
No matter how experienced you are in your industry, there’s always potential to learn and grow. Said another way, “You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.” according to the late, great master chef, Julia Child. Exposing yourself to new people, businesses, ideas, and trends will allow you to find more ways to conduct your business and perhaps even become more efficient. Trade shows and industry-specific networking groups will keep you abreast of trends and best practices in your specialty.
3. Develop New Business Connections
Events are a great place to meet new people and develop meaningful relationships that can potentially lead to strategic partnerships and referrals. An African proverb I think of often says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As I reflect on some of our company’s most powerful sub-contracting partners, I am reminded the relationships were birthed at an event. Food for thought.
4. Invest in Personal and Professional Development
Getting from behind your desk to connect with [and learn from] others is an investment in yourself and your business. Many professional networking events have incredible speakers who are subject matter experts. Want to learn the newest trends in marketing? Attend a marketing conference! Need to understand the business implications of a new regulation? Attend a legislative briefing. Beyond the training experience, you’ll probably have opportunities to present your ideas and work to others, be inspired by presenters, and gain insight to techniques designed to give you a leg up in your business. Never stop learning!
5. Collect Market Research
Thinking about launching a new product or service, but wondering if the market has an appetite for it? Seek out high trafficked, well-attended events to conduct a bit of market research and gather information about consumers’ needs and preferences.
Whether your motivations are to learn, to connect with others, to grow your business, or to share your vision, attending events can catapult your business success. Want more tactical strategies to build meaningful relationships through networking? Download my free eBook How to Leverage Your Networking Effort to Boost Your Bottom Line. #HappyNetworking!
Kelly Leonard is a catalyst, compass, and connector for business success. For nearly 7 years, Kelly has served as Emcee and Executive Producer of the award-winning Small Business Network (SBN). SBN is a collaboration between Montgomery Community Media, local chambers, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Washington Area District Office, Maryland Women’s Business Center, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, and Taylor-Leonard Corporation. Each year, SBN partners and sponsors bring thousands of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and government officials together to network, collaborate, and share best practices in an effort to spur regional economic development.
Put the “5 Compelling Reasons to Attend Networking Events” to the test! Join us every third Thursday for Small Business Network in Rockville, Maryland. For more information or to register for the next SBN, visit www.mymcmedia.or/sbn. You can also stay connected via Meetup or LinkedIn.