Building a Great Business Network
Networking and making connections is a vital step of any career. The right introductions can open doors, and when you’re trying to grow a business are vital. Community-based networking is a major incubator for growth, connecting business owners to potential clients, mentors and partners. I recently came across an article that asked networking superstars for their tips on building community-based networks. Here’s what they had to say:
You’re in the “people business”: Starting a networking group isn’t forming a typical business. Many people try to build communities with the mentality of a business plan, but that’s not how communities work. They’re made up of individual humans. That’s something potential community builders need to understand. In addition, these people need a wide array of skills and traits that can’t necessarily be learnt from a book: empathy, emotional intelligence and a strong bent towards hospitality. Networks need to be focused on the needs of their members first and foremost. These are about connecting people who can help each other and giving back.
Identify a collective need: A networking organization won’t get off the ground without solving a pain point in the market. Building a network means identifying a real need shared by the community, and providing them with ongoing solutions to their problems. This needs to come with a sincere desire to help. People will recognize if this only for your self-interest, and won’t be inclined to get involved. Communities started with the goal of making money off dues and putting members’ needs second are setting themselves up for failure.
Test things out and learn: It’s not easy to build an engaged community that can stay together and provide real value to its members. Keeping a group of disparate individuals together can be very difficult. If you plan on doing an offline community or organization, invite a few of the people you wish to connect with to a low-key activity to test your ideas about the potential value of this community. Take a look at the feedback from the event, and you’ll be able to decide what you should be doing.