Using your networks
Your business networks can help you in a wide range of ways. Through your networks, you can raise your profile, share ideas, and find out about innovations that may stimulate your business. Remember to look outside your industry; it is amazing how often an existing technology used within another industry is applicable to your business.
Make sure you keep in regular contact with businesses in your network. You may be able to use your business networks to find:
- business partners and investors
- new locations to operate in
- a business mentor or mentee
- leads and referrals
- new opportunities
- information on current business trends and developments in your industry
- information to help you benchmark your business.
If you are facing challenges in your business, your network may be able to support you. Your contacts may have faced similar issues in their business, and may be able to provide you with advice. You might also discover ways that you can help other businesses, which will help strengthen your relationships.
Tips for using your networks
- Be sensitive to confidentiality when sharing ideas and discussing issues with another business.
- When you contact other businesses in your network, try to work out who the key people and decision makers are. Talking to the right person will save you time.
- Keep your networking focused on constructive matters rather than on negative ones.
- Consider your areas of expertise. You may be able to offer support and advice to other businesses, or speak at events on the topic. This can help raise your profile and increase your visibility.
- Think about the long term, networking is about building relationships, not immediate pay-offs.
- Connect more frequently with the people most important to your business. For example, make contact daily with those you rely on for day-to-day work, weekly with those in your supply chain, and less often with your broader contacts.