Networking with the Chamber
Being a member of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce has many great values. The increased exposure and marketing opportunities are easy to see but appreciating the benefits of networking is more complicated. You may be thinking “I already have an established business with a good customer base – how can socializing help me?” The answer to this is that networking can gain you referrals and brand awareness and can provide knowledge and ideas to improve your business.
From sharpening your listening skills to using social media, there are a variety of ways to network yourself and your business successfully.
As a busy small business owner who wears many hats, you might not prioritize the chance to mingle at networking events. However, experts say that expanding your professional network can be one of the most important things you can do for your business.
Networking helps businesses stay ahead of the curve by exposing them to leadership, best practices, upcoming trends and insight into how other small businesses may be approaching similar issues. It gives other business owners the opportunity to learn about your business in a positive way and can help your business grow.
How Can the Dawson County Chamber Help Me Network?
The Chamber works to promote our area and its businesses, but we are also available to help you make the most of networking. Follow the Chamber on Facebook and Instagram to see what other businesses are up to and start conversations with your neighbors. Participate in a special event to meet other business owners and unite for a common cause. Attend Chamber meetings and networking sessions to form valuable connections with people who understand your drive. It is only by working together that we can ensure the success of our great community!
No one is great at everything, right? As business owners, we are constantly striving to learn and understand all of the behind the scenes aspects. You are the expert in your field, but are you an effective marketer? Do you understand the technical details of your computer? How well do you follow new tax rules that affect your profits?
Networking with fellow Chamber members can provide insight and information to make your business run smoother and even save you money. And every business owner has valuable knowledge to share. By recognizing that your neighbors have the same drive and ambitions as yourself, you can work together to achieve these shared goals.
Advertising is the obvious way to gain new customers and increase your revenue. However, networking is a free and sometimes more beneficial method. By attending Chamber events, you can make useful connections and remind fellow Chamber members about the services your business provides.
By creating connections within your community, you also put a face on your business. People are more comfortable working with businesses that they can identify with. And maybe another member knows someone who could use your services – word-of-mouth referrals are always valuable! Networking provides you with a way to increase brand awareness beyond other Chamber members.
When you volunteer at a Chamber event or attend a networking meeting, you are telling the world that you are proud to share your knowledge and time. By simply opening yourself up to networking opportunities, you raise the confidence that others have in you, which in turn leads to increased commerce.
Networking can help you grow your confidence in yourself as well. You will see that other members have the same struggles and challenges as you are faced with. And by reaching out and forming connections, you are practicing the same communication skills that will benefit you when dealing with customers. Confidence in yourself and your business equals revenue!
Focus on giving
Although you might think of networking as a way to gain something for yourself—whether it be new clients, sales or business ideas—it’s better to shift your focus to how you can provide value to others. Giving first helps to initiate relationships, so seek to help others with no expectation of repayment. In time as you build your network and develop a reputation as someone who offers value, you will see growth in your business. Some ways to give include sharing advice or information, connecting someone with a colleague or an opportunity, or offering a free trial of your services.
Be a good listener
While you might be prepared to sell yourself with a well-rehearsed pitch, don’t forget to be a good listener, too. Listening is the most important activity when making connections, it is important to learn about the person you are connecting with. Showing interest and curiosity in another person, makes them feel engaged and in turn they will have an interest in you.
Networking can sometimes feel awkward, remember that everybody at some point feels that way. It’s a good idea to try to find common ground with people to create a connection. Connecting over shared interests and experiences allows you to build genuine relationships and will prove more fruitful than simply doing similar work. Allowing people to learn about your business in a positive way can help your business grow.
Use social media
While it shouldn’t be a replacement for in-person networking, social media networking can be another great way to create connections. This is a way to begin interacting with someone in a positive, engaging way then you can send an introduction message about you and your business.
Nurture your connection
After you’ve shaken hands and exchanged businesses cards, be sure to follow up with your new contact, ideally within a few days.
Give it time
You should look at networking as a marathon, not a sprint. Relationship building takes time, energy and effort, you have to grow and nurture your network well before you ever need it. Building a strong network gives you access to people who can help you with future needs.