While networking is crucial to everyone’s growth and development, it is crucial to no one more than the entrepreneur. Without solid relationships, small businesses will die. Building a successful business from the ground up takes a person’s entire time and energy, so it is vital to have a network of friends around you to support you.

The benefits extend past support and into volition: By building up a network of people around you who have similar passion and are headed in the same direction, you increase your likelihood of success. But that is only scratching the surface of the benefits of networking; here are nine benefits of networking that will help you appreciate it even more.

1. Connections

You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Running a successful business will require you to find people who can help with myriad aspects, from legal to compliance to payroll. Having pre-established connections with these people will give you a leg up when you need them.

Networking can also open the door to establishing friendships with successful, influential people you otherwise may never have rubbed shoulders with. The connections benefit is where the “network effect” actually kicks in: The people you network with have established networks of their own, and they become accessible to you as well.

2. Opportunities

By yourself, you have the ability to generate opportunities. Gathered with a group of other new and seasoned business owners, however, multiplies the business opportunities available. No matter what business you are in, networking will present you with the opportunity to embark on a joint venture, to join a partnership, to speak at a conference or write for a journal, to sell or buy a business; the opportunities presented are too numerous to list.

They do come with a caveat, though. Warren Buffett said that the most successful people in the world are those who say no to almost everything. Make sure that you do not just jump on every opportunity that floats to you. Instead, carefully examine each one and decide whether or not it is in your lane. The ones you end up taking should align well with your vision for your career; otherwise, you will get “opportunity fatigue” from partially chasing every opportunity and never getting anywhere.

3. Referrals

The potential for an increase in business is likely the biggest reason many business owners decide that they should join a networking group. Not only are referrals generated through your network normally high-quality (and free!), but they may even be pre-qualified for you. In addition, the person who refers you may, at their discretion, give a recommendation for you. The hard work has been done; you only need to follow up with the referrals in order to turn them into clients.

4. Positive influence

The caliber of your milieu will determine how successful you can be. It is vital for you to develop a robust network of people who encourage you in your work, ensuring that you have the roots necessary to grow as a business owner. Fortunately, the type of people who network are generally positive by nature.

5. Advice

Imagine easily being able to talk to someone who has already gone through the exact situation you are experiencing in business – no matter what that situation is. A network offers a cadre of likeminded business owners who can give you advice on anything related to your business or personal life.

Make sure, however, you take the right kind of advice. No one knows the details of the situation you are going through like you do. So instead of taking “do” advice from people, take “think” advice from people; in other words, take the advice of people who help you understand how to think about a situation – not someone who tells you what to do.

6. Increased confidence

Networking is especially good for people who are not confident; it gives them a catalyst for growth by forcing them to consistently meet new people. The more you push yourself outside your comfort zone, the more comfortable you will be inside of it.

Regularly networking, even if it is something you are not initially inclined towards, will help you learn how to reach out to other people. That soft skills translates well into being a business owner, because the ability to grow your business is highly dependent on your ability to make connections with people.

7. Satisfaction from helping others

Helping others is central to networking. In fact, if you do not use your network to give back to others, it will quickly die. Every business owner has a problem that needs to be solved, and for a few of them, you will be the person uniquely suited to solve it. When you see that opportunity, take it.

8. Raising your profile

You are more than your LinkedIn profile. Many of the benefits on this list are experienced exponentially the more you are known by the people around you. Regularly attending business and social events will help people begin to recognize your face and get them familiar with your story. Then, you can build a reputation as someone who is knowledgeable in your field, reliable to work with and supportive of others by offering help to people who need it.

9. Friendship

“Friendship” might seem like an unprofessional addition to a list on the benefits of networking. But business owners need friends perhaps even more than others. Because the people you network with are likeminded, friendships will naturally form. And you meet with them regularly, so it is easy to maintain the friendship over the long term.

If you feel that you are awkward at networking, then here are 7 books to help you enhance your business networking skills and build relationships.

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