13 Networking Opportunities that Boosted Business Growth
To help you unlock the power of networking and collaboration, we asked thirteen successful business leaders, including co-founders and CEOs, to share their experiences and tips. From leveraging local roundtable discussions to prioritizing memorable customer experiences, here are their insightful answers to help you achieve similar success in your business.
- Leverage Local Roundtable Discussions
- Capitalize on Unexpected Partnerships
- Cultivate an Authentic Personal Brand
- Foster Local Non-Profit Partnerships
- Harness Casual Networking Opportunities
- Strategize Networking on LinkedIn
- Join Peer-Networking Groups
- Attend Major Tech Conferences
- Listen and Connect Cross-Industry
- Engage in Conferences and Relationships
- Participate in Industry-Specific Summits
- Initiate Strategic Co-Promotions
- Prioritize Memorable Customer Experiences
Leverage Local Roundtable Discussions
One lesser-known networking opportunity that significantly benefited my business was participation in local, industry-specific roundtable discussions. These gatherings, often organized by industry associations or chambers of commerce, provided an informal yet highly effective platform for networking and collaboration.
My tip for achieving similar success is actively seeking out and participating in such local roundtable events, which are less competitive and more conducive to open dialogue. By sharing insights, challenges, and solutions with peers in your industry, you can foster genuine relationships and uncover collaboration opportunities that might not be as apparent in larger, more formal networking events.
The key is approaching these discussions with a genuine spirit of collaboration, emphasizing mutual growth and support within your local business community.
Capitalize on Unexpected Partnerships
A local sports celebrity was met through a mutual friend shortly after the start of this company. After the event, the idea to partner with them and create an influencer campaign came to mind.
Contact was made; they agreed, and as a result, the brand was exposed to millions of people in a short amount of time. It provided a great ROI, and it all happened by sheer chance. Always be on the lookout for partnerships. You never know who you’re going to run into at the next event that you attend.
Cultivate an Authentic Personal Brand
One networking or collaboration opportunity that had a positive impact on my business was attending an event from a distinguished organization and being able to be a short-term advisor for almost everyone who attended the event.
Having a good personal brand was vital to being able to accomplish this success, and that is one tip that others can follow to achieve similar success. My greatest advice for this is to be authentic and cherish who you are as a person, because no one was born the exact same person as you.
Foster Local Non-Profit Partnerships
A very important collaboration for us was partnering with a local non-profit. Most companies don’t focus on their local communities and are too busy selling online. We believe that the local community is equally important.
We partnered with a non-profit to market our new product. We donated thirty percent of the proceeds from all sales to the non-profit. The campaign was an instant success. There was a lot of hype around the product in our local community. Our sales and revenue numbers skyrocketed.
Harness Casual Networking Opportunities
When our leading developer had a motorcycle accident, we were on the brink of missing a critical project deadline. However, luck was on our side during a morning coffee networking event.
A newly-freelancing developer was met there whose skills and availability matched perfectly. We joined forces immediately. His seamless integration into our project enabled us to meet our deadline and uphold our reputation. The invaluable lesson here is recognizing the power of informal, face-to-face interactions. Casual settings like coffee mornings can yield critical connections.
The tip is to show up, engage authentically, and keep an open mind about whom you meet. This proactive networking approach can transform challenges into opportunities, allowing your business to survive and thrive.
Strategize Networking on LinkedIn
Networking plays a pivotal role in the success of any business, and for me, LinkedIn has been a key networking platform. I regularly connect with potential candidates, industry leaders, potential clients, and investors. However, effective networking requires strategy, and here are a couple of tips:
Start by creating a list of companies and individuals with whom you wish to connect. Ensure that your networking efforts align with both your business and professional goals. For instance, if you operate in the health sector, focus on connecting with relevant industry professionals.
When sending connection requests, always include a personalized message. It adds professionalism and distinguishes you from generic invitations. Crafting different templates for various categories, such as candidates, investors, or industry leaders, can help create lasting impressions and meaningful connections.
Join Peer-Networking Groups
Joining peer-networking groups has had a positive impact on our business. Connecting with other professionals in the same industry has allowed us to learn new strategies, share experiences and resources, and stay up-to-date on industry news. This has also been beneficial for making valuable connections that may lead to collaboration or referral projects.
The tip for others is to be intentional and consistent with networking—set aside time each week or month specifically for networking activities, join online groups related to your industry, or attend local events in person. Doing this consistently will help build relationships within the community and increase the chances of finding valuable opportunities.
Attend Major Tech Conferences
One game-changer for my business was attending a major tech conference a few years back. I had the chance to collaborate on a panel discussion, which led to meeting a key industry influencer. This connection opened doors to partnerships and expanded our client base significantly.
My tip? Always be genuine in your interactions. People can sense authenticity, and it’s that genuine interest and passion that can turn a casual chat into a fruitful business relationship.
Listen and Connect Cross-Industry
Recently, I met someone who works in a very different industry than my own, yet her customer base was the same as mine. I was at a tech-networking event in New York City. Her business served people who fit the criteria for my target audience. They were high-net-worth decision-makers at certain types of businesses.
I learned this because I was more focused on asking her questions than telling her about my own business. We had a follow-up call shortly after the event and worked out a referral arrangement. Now, when either of us brings in new business, we can listen to the client’s needs. When there’s a gap that the other person can fill, we make the referral.
I would have had less luck building that relationship if I had been entirely focused on myself at the event. The main takeaway here is that you should listen more than you speak, and good things will come to you. As the great stoic Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Engage in Conferences and Relationships
One networking opportunity that significantly benefited my business was attending industry-specific conferences. These events provided a platform to connect with like-minded professionals, potential clients, and collaborators.
The key tip for success is to be genuinely interested in others’ work and needs. Engage in meaningful conversations, actively listen, and seek ways to add value to their endeavors. Building authentic relationships fosters trust and often leads to collaborative projects, referrals, or new business opportunities. Networking should be about building long-term connections, not just immediate gains, and this approach can yield lasting benefits for your business.
Participate in Industry-Specific Summits
In the dynamic world of information technology, one networking opportunity that significantly impacted TechAhead’s success was our participation in the annual “TechConnect IT Summit.”
With over 24 years in the industry, this event truly stands out. At TechConnect, there was the chance to network with fellow IT leaders and industry experts, fostering valuable collaborations. This led to several strategic partnerships and joint ventures, opening doors to new projects and clients.
A tip for achieving similar success is to actively engage in industry-specific conferences and events. Networking with peers and staying updated on the latest trends not only enhances knowledge but also expands business opportunities in the IT sector.
Initiate Strategic Co-Promotions
A few years ago, we integrated our platform with a complementary service, Snov.io, and we agreed on a co-promotion from both sides. This step opened the door to an easy and successful client exchange and provided more growth opportunities for both platforms.
The only advice is to discuss with your partner in advance which exact actions you are ready to take for this promotion: advertising on the site (if so, then if it will be on the main page), mail outs to current users, etc. We discussed these questions beforehand and both sides were satisfied with the results.
Prioritize Memorable Customer Experiences
In today’s digital age, networking has changed dramatically. For businesses, two things are realized. One, it isn’t about the social gatherings and parties, and two, it is about memorable customer experiences.
Spending time trying to get around people doesn’t do businesses a lot of good. The focus is on when there is an interaction with someone, maybe the one and only customer for the day, making that experience so great that there is a chance of that person advocating the business.
Networking is through customers that can be wowed with great service and memorable experiences. This equates to online shout-outs on Facebook when people ask for recommendations, or when they hear their co-worker say they have a problem, the customer remembers the business as a solution to recommend.
It isn’t about getting around people a lot, it’s about being remembered whenever there is an interaction with someone. Focus on quality work, and always ask for reviews.
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