At Peopleplus Enterprise, we are strong advocates of networking with other small businesses and like-minded people. Networking can be a fantastic opportunity to make connections and support the growth of your business, but how?

Spread the word.

Think of networking as a free marketing tool. There are plenty of groups and organisations who host networking events that won’t charge you to join, and while you’re there you have the chance to promote your brand. You are the face of your product and it’s proven that people buy people first. They would rather buy from someone they know and trust than a faceless brand, so this is a great platform to share your brand’s message and get the word out about what you are doing. If people trust you and find you approachable, they are more likely to support your business.

Build your confidence.

Walking into a room full of strangers and trying to get them onside can be scary. However, a lot of networking groups will have a panel discussion or presentation first to ease you into the session and give you something to talk about. This also helps you see who is in the room and who would be good to talk to.

The more events you attend the better you will become at talking to people you don’t know and gauging their responses to you. Remember, most people there will be in the same boat as you, a little nervous and out of their comfort zone so they will likely welcome a friendly smile and conversation starter.

Make partnerships.

As well as meeting potential clients or customers, networking can lead to future partnerships. For example, if you’re a graphic designer and meet a web developer, they may be able to recommend some of their customers to you if you’re offering a service they can’t provide and vice versa.

These kinds of relationships can be mutually beneficial and again this helps to strengthen brand awareness for your business. You may even be able to explore the possibility or merging your idea with another entrepreneur in order to form a stronger business or organisation.

Perfect your pitch.

At a networking event you only have a small amount of time to make a good first impression and introductions count. You should be able to introduce yourself and your business within 30 seconds. For example, “My business is Peopleplus Enterprise and we support the journey for individuals into self-employment. Whether someone is just starting out or considering their options, we offer free guidance, workshops, mentoring and general support to make sure they make the right decision for them." This gives people a brief overview of you, your business and what it hope to achieve. It then invites them to do the same and you can then decide if your ambitions align and whether you could forge a working relationship.