Since going into business for myself 3 years ago, one of the unexpected joys has certainly been the networking I have been able to participate in. Females (in particular) are essentially social creatures, and working from home in a one person business can have some downsides. So, in my book, real life networking has many multi-faceted benefits, of which I thought I would have a ramble about today.
- Running your own business, especially a home based one, can get quite isolating and lonely, especially if you have young children too and don't get the opportunity to socialise much. Networking creates opportunities to meet other like-minded business people, quite often on a similar path to you in regards to family circumstances and understanding the stresses of running your own business (with sometimes no other income).
- You get to meet the 'faces behind the businesses', and they get to meet you. How much more likely are you to support a business that you know and trust? Lots more! So be confident when you are out actively networking, meeting people, and making a good impression, you are also giving your business a good name, and creating consumer confidence for future business.
- Friendships always develop from networking events! This is just the most amazing consequence of networking, I have met some absolutely amazing women that have surprised me with their friendship and support, and while you might not get to see each other face to face very often, you know they are only a phone call or email away.
- You realise you are not the only one struggling with different issues with your business and family. When you have no-one to talk to about things, it can feel like you are the only one having problems. This is definitely not the case, and it is very strengthening to know others are going through similar things. On the other hand, its also nice to have someone to share your achievements with as well!
- You create the opportunity to brainstorm and think outside the box a little. You can ask advice from others that have been in business longer than you, and it is also a great opportunity to set in motion some reciprocal advertising or joint ventures with businesses with similar target markets. Most small business count every dollar when it comes to advertising and marketing, and when you can set up some co-promotion that doesn't cost anything, it benefits everyone involved.