Written by Avery Thatcher
There are many different ways you can grow your business, but nothing quite compares to the power of networking.
That being said, I’m really not a fan of transactional networking. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m pushing my services onto people who are just looking for their ideal client so they can do the same for them. Networking can be so much more than registering for a meet up group and trying to find your ideal client in the room so you can sell to them.
With referral-based marketing, the networking events are geared towards connecting you with referral and momentum partners which leverage word-of-mouth marketing because, as my friend Scott King says all the time “relationships reduce risk”.
Here’s how it works:If you were looking for a new yoga studio and a friend of yours recommended one that they go to and love – you wouldn’t think twice about it before registering for a class at that studio to try it out. So you see, networking, when it’s not about selling to the people in the room (virtual or otherwise) actually creates a lot of opportunity for this powerful word-of-mouth referral style of marketing.
However, there are many benefits to networking beyond “just” growing your business.
Networking reduces isolation
Life as an entrepreneur can be very lonely and isolating especially when you don’t have friends or family members that are on the same small business path. This is especially true for solopreneurs, which is how many of us start out.
You don’t always have access to someone you can ask that tech question to about why your WordPress website just isn’t doing what you want it to do. Or how to set up email automations in your CRM tool. Or to figure out the ever changing Instagram algorithm to break through the noise and connect with your ideal client.
Growing your network gives you access to an abundant knowledge base as everyone operates within their zone of genius. The give-more-than-you-get mentality starts to work almost immediately, and then you will be top-of-mind and be seen as a go-to resource and recommendation for your network. Win-win.
Another way that networking reduces isolation is that it brings you and other likeminded people together on a regular basis to catch up, connect, have fun, learn and cheer each other on. There’s nothing quite like a Zoom Room celebrating your achievements with you!
Networking heals the stress damage at the DNA level
Entrepreneurs self-report the highest levels of stress amongst all working groups. There are a number of reasons for this, such as the emotional investment we all have in our businesses, the financial investments we may have made, and this deep desire to prove to ourselves that we can make a living doing what we love.
This increased stress, along with the typical modern day stressors that we experience, can cause damage to our body over time. In fact, this is the top reason why I started building my business in the first place. As a former ICU Registered Nurse, while I was working in the ICU I noticed that the majority of the reasons that adults found themselves in the ICU were because of illnesses and diseases that could be linked to chronic stress.
The pace at which we push ourselves, especially in the first few years of growing our business, is a recipe for burnout and for the chronic stress to take a toll on our health.
Connecting with people who understand what you’re going through.
There was a study done with a group of mothers of children with special needs (which comes with it’s own unique set of stressors) and they brought the group together to talk, connect, and just feel less isolated in their experiences raising their special needs children. There was no program, no facilitated discussion, just a group of women talking about what was happening in their day-to-day life.
What the study revealed was truly profound, but in order for me to blow your mind with what it discovered, I have to give you a little science lesson first.
Our DNA strands are wound up in little helixes and each strand of healthy DNA has a little hat on each end called a telomere. At the beginning of the study, they looked at the DNA of the participants and noticed that the telomeres on some of the DNA strands had worn down or worn off completely, leaving the DNA strand unravelled and which puts us at risk for certain diseases like cancer.
After 8 weeks of the participants meeting with one another, the researchers looked at the DNA again and saw that the DNA and healed itself! It had wound back up and the telomeres (the little hats) had reformed.
Just by talking with a group of people who understand us and know what we’re going through and what our goals are, our body can heal itself from some of the damage chronic stress can cause.
Need one more reason to sign up for a networking event? I’ve got you covered.
Networking creates opportunities for collaboration
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “collaboration over competition” and “there’s enough clients for everyone” and nothing makes that more clear than with networking. Through networking, I have created many opportunities to grow my podcast referral network where I recommend new podcast guests for the podcasts I am interviewed on, and my podcast referral network does the same. I met my summit co-organizer through a networking event, have referred people to book authoring collaboration opportunities that are in alignment for their business, booked speaking engagements and so much more.
The key is to find the right referral partners so that your collaboration opportunities really benefit both of you.
Take a moment to think of your ideal client.
Now think about who else they might be working with besides you. Those people that they’d be working with? Those are your ideal referral partners.
Here’s what I mean:
A legal firm that helps entrepreneurs set up their LLC would have great referral partners in accountants, business coaches, and marketing agencies. None of these other businesses are in direct competition with that legal firm, but they all service similar clients.
For my business teaching stress management strategies, burnout recovery and prevention, and habit optimization to high-achievers, my ideal client also works with therapists, dieticians, business coaches, leadership coaches, and HR directors looking to create corporate wellness programs for their staff.
See how it works?
Who else would your ideal client be working with, speaking with, or connecting with?
Once you have those people identified, absolutely you can refer clients to each other, but it also opens up the opportunities to work together.
So you see, networking can be so much more powerful than just looking for ways to sell to the people in the room. As an introvert myself, I can tell you that there is no reason why you can’t make the most out of your networking opportunities. Anyone and everyone can benefit from growing and nurtuing their network – so when are you going to get started?