Luke Nolan, CEO and Founder, Student.com
Networking, a basic in business and the number one step to get a business idea off the ground. But actually networking and partnerships is a valuable tool for your business throughout its growth, not just at the start of the journey. Building a business based on a network can be a solid business strategy to take and here’s how you can do it too.
Look Close First
We have heard about the rule of six degrees of separation, where everyone in the world is somehow connected via six contacts, well this is even smaller in business. It’s surprising who you can find mutual connections with on networking platforms such as LinkedIn, or even closer to home with family and friends. Everyone knows somebody, and that somebody may be the key to unlock the next stage of your business journey. You could meet anyone from a potential investor, a valuable freelancer to the latest member of a sales team, however, on the flipside of being only a few introductions away this means that you need to be ready to share your pitch at any moment. Traditionally your go to would be an elevator pitch, in theory short enough to pitch whilst travelling a few floors in a lift, but you can take it that step further by condensing down your business proposition and benefit to just one sentence. It’s easy to get caught up in the detail, especially if you are passionate about your business, however everyone won’t need or be interested in the finer details. Consider how you would explain your business to an eight or eighty year old and you won’t go far wrong.
Look for Experts
It’s well documented from some of the world’s greatest business leaders who have credited part of their success comes from hiring people who can do what they can’t, and that is vital when building your network. Often businesses are looking to venture in new markets when growing. This is a natural step for a business to take but in order to achieve this you need local experts and skills. Whilst you can identify other market potential as a business – whether in Europe or further afield – you won’t have local knowledge. The small, and what may seem insignificant regional nuances can often put a halt to either setting up a base in the region or hiring the right team. This is a recipe for failure and your ventures to new markets will be short lived. Therefore it’s worth looking to build your network based on local experts who can help guide you in those early days to provide longevity as your business grows.
Look for Middle Ground
Once you are building your network think about mutual exchange, and championing them where possible. Often a personal recommendation can go a long way, or perhaps an introductory meeting with a new contact. Considering what you have to offer as a business – whether that’s office co-share space or joint partnerships on projects – to support your network is a big factor. In a world where our online brand is as important, if not in some cases more important than our offline brand – social media and websites are key. Can you conduct a blog exchange with someone in your network that your target audience might find beneficial, or can you share upcoming events to your network which might help expand contacts for all parties involved? Overlooked for more pressing business actions, actually conducting regular social media activities will help nurture your network. In the modern day the age old skill of networking and partnerships certainly hasn’t died out.
We now function in fully connected world – both online and offline. Whether building your local or global network is your focus, the power it holds can help you build a successful business, taking you to the next stage of your growth.