You’re looking for ways to increase the number of people you reach, the number of quality business relationships you establish…all whist decreasing the capital and time you invest in strengthening your start-up or small business within the market. In this, you’re not alone.

When I’m asked about the highest ROI activities for start-ups and small business, networking is always part of my answer. Why?

Because ‘people buy people’ and if you are not out meeting new people you are losing the opportunity to connect, be discovered and have your message and brand become better known.

All relationships are built on trust and one of the fastest ways to build trust for women in small business is to network – it doesn’t usually cost much other than time, and the returns aren’t just monetary—the advantages are rich, including…

  • awareness for your brand
  • collaboration opportunities
  • understanding (by others and you) how your personal brand fits into and supports your business brand
  • appreciation for the needs of your target audience
  • endorsement opportunities
  • myth busting
  • referrals
  • list building
  • learning from more experienced business owners and entrepreneurs
  • elevator pitch rehearsal
  • market discovery
  • creation of new communication channels
  • a better understanding of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing
  • sales opportunities
  • finding suppliers
  • creative idea generation through mutual inspiration
  • resource building
  • making new like-minded friends
  • getting out of the office

This is just the beginning of the value offered by networking. And no, the last one isn’t a joke. Too many women find themselves holed up in their offices, building their businesses in the best ways they know how—not realising that there’s a whole world of opportunity waiting for them beyond those office walls.

For every networking event you attend, you should aim to come away with a number of business cards. Click To Tweet

Likewise, you should distribute a healthy smattering of your own, particularly to those who can benefit from the unrivaled value your brand has to offer.

Check with your local business trade association, women’s advocacy group, chamber of commerce, business bureau, or entrepreneur support organisation for networking events in your area, and whilst there, keep your ideal client at the forefront of your mind.

As you introduce yourself and your business, ask yourself who there has the power to create a better experience for your customers…in conjunction with what you’re offering.

Also identify those business owners whom you respect and make a commitment to learning from them.

And don’t forget that you are a woman. Hard to overlook, right? Maybe not.

Too many times, as women, we work really hard on trying to compete in male-dominated industries by attempting to match or outdo the things men have been doing for centuries; when what we should be doing is celebrating all the intrinsic gifts we bring to the market, and using them to compete, connect and succeed.

As you network with other business owners—male and female—avoid falling into competition within traditional roles, and instead be the YOU that will bring something new and special to your industry, whatever that may be.

When I first started my business (from my closet) networking gave me the massive boost I needed to succeed. If you’d like to learn more about how I made networking work for me –  and more importantly what you can do to make it work for you – then you might like to buy my book, Out of the Closet. I cover networking in detail as well as other secret success strategies that I know you’ll find extremely helpful if you are new to the world of networking or it just doesn’t seem to be working for you.