Networking is an absolutely essential skill for any small business to have, especially during their earliest days. Networking is the primary process for building out your address book and contacts lists, increasing the number of people you have to call on in times of need. You never know when the other businesspeople, and the organisations they represent, are going to be able to help you.
Among the many challenges facing start-up businesses today, and one of the most pressing, lies in raising awareness of your business so that it can continue to grow and reach new audiences. Hosting a networking event is one of the most effective ways that a fledgling business can greatly increase the reach of their business.
Consider Your Guest List
When you have decided that the time is right to put on some kind of networking event, you will then need to draw up a guest list. Getting the guest list right is important if you want to make the most of the opportunity that networking events present. In order to be successful you need to find the right balance between inviting enough people that you have all your bases covered in terms of what you are, and not overcrowding the event so that people struggle to mingle.
Think about what you would like to achieve with your networking event. Is there are a particular product or other aspect of your business that you are hoping to bring to the attention of other people? Or perhaps you are looking for some partnership opportunities so that you can work with other businesses for your mutual benefit. Be mindful of your objectives when deciding on your guest list and prioritise invites for individuals who can help you achieve them.
Make it an Event to Remember
If you can put on some kind of networking event which sticks in the memories of all those who attend, then they are far more likely to remember you and your business as well. How you go about making your event a special one is entirely up to you and your imagination. There is an endless array of things you could do which would set your event apart from the myriad of similar networking events that your attendees may have recently been to.
It is up to you to judge how formal your event needs to be, but if it is of the more laid-back variety, then you might want to consider introducing some ice breakers and other group activities. This will help to solidify the event in the memory of your guests and will also perhaps help to get conversation flowing more easily.
Have a Thread
When it comes to networking, the temptation is often to cast as wide a net as possible and hope that by inviting a large number of people to an event you can all but guarantee that there will be someone there worth adding to your address book. However, a much more efficient and effective approach is to theme each of your networking events. Ensure that there is some common thread which runs through everyone you invite, this will ensure that they have plenty to talk about.
For example, corporate hospitality events, designed to connect you with people from the world of corporate hospitality, should be attended by people with connections to this area. It is no good having valuable space taken up by people whose profession is completely unrelated.
Networking events are fantastic opportunities to meet other businesspeople and to forge the relationships which are crucial to any businesses success. There is no need to face the many challenges of the modern business world alone, especially when you can forge positive relationships with other businesses working in your sector.