11th November, 2021
Networking is a key part of building a business and a reputation, but how do successful business owners manage the friendships they develop in the process?
There are a few things that are pivotal to a business’ success: a clear strategy, a great team and clever marketing all come straight to mind. But one of the things that often gets forgotten is the importance of making friends along the way – not only with other business owners and suppliers, but also with clients and customers.
Like it or not, networking is one of the most important parts of building a thriving business and today we’re going to explain exactly why – and we’ll tell you how to foster them.
Not only can friends of your business be supporters who can lend a hand when you run into challenges, but they can also help you strengthen your brand and grow your audience by exposing your business to their audiences.
Friends of your business can also reassure you when you’re doubting yourself, because chances are they’ve been there too; anyone who has taken the plunge to invest in an idea they think has potential knows the feeling of imposter syndrome, but hearing similar stories from successful friends you meet along the way will help by providing added direction and reassurance.
There are a few barriers to developing great networks and the first is a fear of rejection.
We probably could all list brands and businesses we’ve watched grow over the years that we’d love to work with or who we’d love to pick the brains of. Frustratingly, many of us are too afraid to be vulnerable and reach out, but we need to remember there is nothing to be lost from putting yourself out there. If you’d like to connect with someone, send them a message on socials or through LinkedIn – though life is busy, most of us want to help other people succeed, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Another barrier we see is actually knowing who the right people to connect with are. To help you figure it out, our advice is to think of the people who do business in a way that you admire and whose values mirror yours – they might be in a different industry, but if they stand for similar things to you then that is a relationship worth pursuing.
We would tend to agree with this point, but going into business with friends is very different from strengthening the relationships you have with friends in business.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who have been friends forever starting a business together and then falling out over different ideas their business direction. While it’s not always the case, generally we’d advise people to steer clear of these kinds of partnerships.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate with other businesses and entrepreneurs to help prop each other up and expand your audiences and followings. In fact, collaborations are a great way to not only help your business enjoy more exposure, but also to help a friend’s business experience more success.
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The best piece of advice I have is to not be afraid of putting yourself out there – go to events that you know other business owners will be at, introduce yourself to people, send messages out into the world and don’t be afraid to host your own events and meet people that way.
Also, keep in mind the foundations of any good friendship: shared interests, mutual respect and open-mindedness. If you seek out like-minded people with a similar attitude towards business and relationships, you’ll be well placed to make new connections.
Back yourself in, turn on the charm and go and make some meaningful relationships.