7 benefits of attending network events

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Written by Guy Walsh

Last week I wrote a beginner’s guide to how to get the most out of networking events, but what I didn’t talk about is why you should attend.

Some of the benefits are obvious, while others are less so. If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, here are some things you might not have thought about.

1. You will build your network

Let’s start with the obvious one. The main point of attending networking events is to develop a network of contacts. Suppliers, customers, referral partners, collaborators, and cheerleaders can be found at any event, just don’t expect immediate sales. A successful network is one built on the know – like – trust factor. This can’t be garnered overnight.

There is value in having a wide network, as we’ll see throughout this article.

2. You will always be inspired

Not only do I find myself inspired by their dreams, but having spent much of the Covid years working as a business advisor, I can often signpost them to further sources of support, or help them build on their idea.

One of my favourite things about going to networking events is hearing what other people are up to. I love hearing about their vision, their goals, and how they’re going about getting to where they want to be.

Of course, this happens the other way too – when talking about my own ideas, the people around me often chip in with their suggestions.

It’s a pot of unlimited creativity!

3. You will develop camaraderie

When you are in a room full of people that are inspiring each other, a natural camaraderie develops.

This is vital if you’re a freelancer or you spend a lot of time working alone. Personally I love working from home, but I try to make sure that I attend at least one networking event each week, and ideally have at least one one-to-one meeting too. Not only does this help build relationships, but over time you’ll feel less like a freelancer and more like part of a (slightly dysfunctional) team. You’ll certainly feel less alone.

4. You open the door to collaboration

We hear a lot that people buy from people – particularly when we’re dealing with SMEs and micro businesses. But people also like to collaborate with people.

By keeping an open mind and listening to others’ needs, you will find opportunities that otherwise may not present themselves. This could be anything from partnership working, to referral channels, to entirely new business opportunities.

5. You develop a network of cheerleaders

Perhaps the greatest of benefits is the fact that with familiarity comes trust. And once people start to trust you, you’ll naturally be at the forefront of their thoughts.

This means that if someone they are talking to expresses a need for your product or service, you’ll be the person they think of first. Even if that referral doesn’t turn into a customer immediately, the fact that numerous people are talking about you means that your name will come up often enough to sink into the collective consciousness of the group – which will likely lead to referrals.

6. You’ll gain a greater understanding of other industries

The great thing about having conversations with people from different industries and backgrounds is that you get to learn about their work, and what makes them tick. This has multiple benefits. Not only do you develop your own knowledge, but you can also make yourself useful to others by signposting them to support of referring to other businesses.

You’ll also be able to gain a deeper understanding of their needs. If your service helps address their needs, you can use this knowledge to influence your (soft) sales pitch when the time is right.

On top of that you’ll also start spotting opportunities within industries that you may never have previously thought of!

7. You have access to a crack team of specialists

As well as helping build a team of collaborators and cheerleaders, you’ll also pick up specialised knowledge on the way. Some events have a dedicated speaker that will share a short presentation to the group, but even when this isn’t the case you’ll still pick up lots of useful titbits along the way, and be able to ask preliminary questions to help you start to understand services that you may need in the future.

People love to share knowledge and expertise. It’ll also help you identify potential suppliers when you need to employ someone with a specialism – for example an HR person or an accountant.

Convinced?

Check out this list of networking events in Leicestershire and this list of networking events in Northamptonshire to find local opportunities near you! As well as the event that I run, Countryside Connect, I strongly recommend Business Buzz as a friendly starting point if you’re new, and don’t forget to read my article on how to make the most of networking too.

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If you go to a networking event and run around the room handing business cards to everyone and only giving them a token level of attention, they’ll remember that you made them feel insignificant.

Would you do business with someone that made you feel insignificant?

By attending networking events regularly and connecting with the same faces on an ongoing basis, you can build a cheerleading squad for your business, but only if you make people feel valued.