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Posted 12th January 2024

How to Kickstart 2024 by Expanding Your Business Network

Is 2024 a good year to start a business? How do you connect with like-minded individuals to build your business network? More importantly, how do you keep your professional network firmly engaged?

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how to kickstart 2024 by expanding your business network.


How to Kickstart 2024 by Expanding Your Business Network
Expand Business Network

Is 2024 a good year to start a business? How do you connect with like-minded individuals to build your business network? More importantly, how do you keep your professional network firmly engaged?

To find valuable business connections and build long-term trust, business networking offers many benefits to small businesses looking to grow and flourish in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

With 65% of businesses preferring in-person trade shows, the need for face-to-face industry networking remains strong. But what else can small businesses do to broaden their horizons in 2024 and beyond? First, it’s important to identify the types of business networks available to you.

 

What are the different types of business networks available?

Essentially, there are two types of business networks; informal and formal.

 

Formal business networks

Formal business networks are communication systems that have been officially endorsed by the company. Often following specific hierarchies and protocols, formal business networks ensure smooth, organised and productive operations. Typical examples of formal business networks include:

  • Conferences
  • Meetings
  • Mass emails / newsletters
  • Task forces and committees
  • Supply chain and distributor networks
  • Professional development programs
  • Industry associations and Chambers of Commerce.

 

Informal business networks

Whereas formal business networks follow a structured approach, informal business networks are less organised and more flexible. Based on mutual trust, personal relationships and shared interests, informal business networks leverage your personal connections for success. Also known as ‘grapevines’, examples of informal business networks include:

  • Social media groups 
  • Professional associations 
  • Education networks 
  • Industry conferences and events 
  • Mentorship relationships 
  • Office lunch groups 
  • Online forums and communities

As well as networking, businesses are using time-saving outsource call center services to increase flexibility and scalability. Designed to streamline and optimize business operations, outsourcing can help improve networking and relationship-building. too. 

Alleviating the burden of managing a call centre, small businesses can concentrate on building business networks and nurturing relationships with industry peers, partners, suppliers, and customers.

 

How do I expand my business network in 2024?

It’s likely that building your brand, improving profitability, and enhancing employee retention are all at the top of your agenda for the coming year. A powerful business network can help you achieve these goals and much more. With this in mind, here are six tips and techniques to start building your network and make it much more effective in the coming year.

 

1. Preparation is everything

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” – Bobby Unser, racing driver.

As with everything in life, preparation is the key to success. Reducing anxiety and the chance of making a bad impression with new connections, being prepared allows you to have full control over the situation and ooze crucial confidence needed to raise your professional profile and grow your personal brand.

To begin with, answer the following questions. By establishing these goals, you can organise your time effectively and prepare for any question.

    • Who do you want to meet?
      e.g. industry experts, potential clients, or collaborators.

    • Why do you want to meet them?
      e.g. to gain new knowledge, clients, partnerships, or career opportunities.

    • What value can you offer?
      e.g. expertise, resources, or unique insights.

  • How will you introduce yourself and your business?
    Ensure your opening pitch is captivating and positive by researching some business networking conversation icebreakers.

  • Can you tailor your approach by researching background information relevant to the event?
    e.g., market trends, industry insights, or specific details about potential connections.

    • What networking tools will you use?
      e.g., business cards, marketing tools, QR codes, or presentation materials.

  • What is your exit strategy?

Plan a professional exit strategy to politely end futile conversations and find more worthwhile connections.

By setting your goals, you can be upfront and clear about what you seek, and the conversation will naturally flow.

 

2. Visit business networking events

If you’re just starting out, attending local business networking events in your area is a good place to start. Small businesses buy domain name UK to attract new customers and clients in the United Kingdom, and you can do the same by beginning with your local business community.

Local networking opportunities to explore include: 

  • Your local Chamber of Commerce
  • Co-working spaces
  • Professional bodies relevant to your sector
  • Regional networking membership groups.

 

3. Use social media

Perfect for those who can’t handle face-to-face networking, leveraging business networking via social media, and optimizing your presence through LinkedIn SEO, especially on platforms like LinkedIn, eliminates expensive travel costs and allows you to connect virtually with anyone across the globe.

Combining this with networking strategies can help you make the most of your online presence, ensuring that you engage with the right people and build meaningful connections.

It can also help brands find the right influencers for their campaigns, creator management networks are also helping small businesses communicate with and manage content creators more effectively.

 

4. Use active listening skills

Successful networking is all about building meaningful connections. Active listening helps you to do this by demonstrating a genuine interest in what potential connections have to say and that you understand their needs.

Here are three prime examples of active listening to improve your business networking technique.

  • Remain focused
    Give the person your attention by maintaining eye contact and putting your phone away.

  • Positive body language
    Using positive nonverbal cues, like smiling, nodding, and leaning slightly forward, shows your interest and encourages them to continue sharing.

  • Empathize
    Expressing empathy shows you acknowledge their feelings and experiences, as well as the emotions behind them.

5. Sharing is caring

Networking isn’t just about taking, it’s about giving back, too. Always try to be helpful and share valuable information with your network. Do you have a great source on new market trends? Let other people know, rather than keeping it to yourself. Sharing information increases your visibility, establishes credibility within your field of expertise, and builds essential trust.

 

6. Follow up

Following up is a crucial part of the networking puzzle, however it’s often overlooked. To keep the experience fresh in their mind, the general rule of thumb is to follow up new connections within 48 hours of meeting them.

Effective ways for following up after a networking event include:

  • Organise business contacts into lists
  • Add them to your social media network 
  • Send them an email
  • Add them to your newsletter mailing list
  • Add them to your text messaging list
  • Set up a meeting
  • Create a calendar reminder to follow up in 6 months.
  • Able to increase efficiency, sales volumes and call conversion rates, use an outbound dialer system to effectively follow up connections.

 

Make time for business networking and never look back

Business networking may seem like it involves a lot of effort, but it really doesn’t have to. Even if you only have time to attend one in-person or online networking event a year, if you attend the right one, it could really pay off and help your network to thrive.

There are so many business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2024. By firmly setting your networking goals and putting the points we’ve raised above into practice will deliver the greatest chance of success.

Categories: Business Advice, News


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