Networking is the interaction of people exchanging information and developing contacts, especially to further one's career. It's the art of creating and strengthening mutually beneficial relationships over time and is often said to be critical for professional growth and business development. Most often networking events are free. It's full of like-minded people that you can work with or learn from in some way, including peers, industry associations, business groups, and even personal contacts. Networking events can range from trade shows or conferences to social gatherings. A Google search will most likely reveal an abundance of networking events in your area for you to connect with business people. There are also plenty of opportunities to network online, like LinkedIn, which are particularly useful for business networking. By attending a networking event you are opening the doors to a room full of opportunities, not just a room full of people. It's a chance for you to meet business owners and influential people all together in one environment, many of which you may not otherwise meet. Some of the rewarding benefits of attending a networking event include:
Branding and Marketing Yourself-- It's important to be visible and get noticed at these events. Networking will help you become a familiar face in the community and a top of the mind person regarding your area of expertise. Use these events to demonstrate that you're passionate and knowledgeable about your craft.
Building Business -- By expanding your network and meeting new contacts you acquire new customers and suppliers and explain and grow your business. Fellow businesses know your name and what you're about. One of the greatest benefits of networking is that it can generate leads and referrals.
Gaining Industry Knowledge --Networking events allow you to exchange the latest industry information and any developments. It also opens the doors to discussing best business practices, guidance from experienced peers, and advice on how to avoid challenges and pitfalls.
Connecting with Industry Experts --These events provide you with an opportunity to meet with some of the biggest influencers in the industry and create connections with these monumental leaders.
Personal and Professional Development --By attending networking events you have the opportunity to be coached indirectly by others and learn new skills to enhance your own professional development. By listening to others, sharing ideas in discussions, or even asking for feedback and advice, it allows you to expand your knowledge and helps you to see things from a different perspective.
Uncovering Opportunities --Attending a networking event could mean meeting your new business partner, dream employer, life-altering mentor, or even a like-minded person who you can bounce ideas off of. It can be the key moment that leads to many opportunities that you otherwise may not have been presented.
Socializing/Mingling --Remember, networking should be fun! It isn't all work and no play. Let your hair down, relax, and just shoot the breeze with like-minded individuals. It's a place for you to be social in your industry and community. And who knows, you might just create some positive outcomes for your business.
Keep in mind that you're marketing your business and yourself and best of all you're creating connections. These connections become your own personal network. In today's day and age, no matter what tools or technology you use, your network is priceless. These are the people that will help make your career a success.