Business networking, business owners and executivesI recently attended the Boston Irish Business Awards Breakfast hosted by the Boston Irish Business Association and the Boston Business Journal last week. As I listened to the inspiring stories, quite a few of the honorees mentioned people they had met who were helpful to them as they developed their careers and businesses. They described how they met these people through common organizations or through other introductions. It was clear that networking had made a difference!

Networking is key part of building your small to mid-sized business

There is a reason why we go to events and spend hours standing, talking and listening to people we don’t know. But have you thought about why you choose one event over another? Here are seven reasons that occurred to me as I was listening and meeting the people sitting with me at the awards breakfast…

7 reasons why upgrading your business networking events matters

1. Hang out with those you want to be – Have you heard the saying, “birds of a feather flock together.” When you want to build a more sophisticated business, it’s good to associate and be associated with people who have already built solid and successful businesses.

2. Inspiration – This dovetails the first reason. It’s really the next step. As you start attending certain events regularly, you will get to know others and meet one on one. This is a good way to hear someone’s story, meet a mentor or witness how someone handles themselves in the moment.

3. Business development – Targeting certain groups makes sense. If you are in a room of the type of person who is your client/customer, you have a better chance at meeting an actual person who will buy from you.

4. Information – Just listening to others can be a great source of information about how the group functions, other events of interest, people of interest or even information about the local business environment.

5. Learn “how it’s done” – One thing my clients say to me at some point in our coaching is that they are associating with a  different sort of person than they have previously. This is a good way to see and learn how people dress, language they use, ways to interact with others and other norms or etiquette.

6. Find collaboration partners – Growing your business into its next stage sometimes takes working with a complementary professional. An active, well-attending networking group might have just the person you’re looking for.

7. Find the next direction for your business – As any entrepreneurial business owner/ executive knows, you have to stay fresh to stay relevant in today’s business environment. You might hear an interesting idea, meet your next business partner, an investor or even find the resources you need to bring more value to your current clients/customers.

Your choice matters

Some business owners and executives attend certain groups for the social aspects. Others are attending as part of their marketing and business development purposes. While it’s nice to network with people you know and enjoy, ask yourself how attending this group versus another will benefit your growth or your business’ growth. If it’s not meeting your business goals, maybe it’s time to upgrade where you network.

What do you think?

What reasons can you think of to upgrade where you network for your business?

image credit: jgroup on iStockphoto

 About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are re-focusing your small business or expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about growing to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.