By Molly Cerreta Smith

Networking is one of the most beneficial ways to take any business to the next level or for new business owners to make connections in the community. Here, we take a look at the numerous ways that networking can benefit a business.

Making Connections
New to a networking event? Don’t be shy – jump right in! At one point or another, everyone there was a newcomer, so don’t hesitate to approach new people, introduce yourself and ask them about their business/company and what brings them to the event. This is the easiest way to start getting the most out of the event and start connecting with new people.

Sense of Community
Joining a group of like-minded people can not only help people make connections, but it can also build a sense of community. Businesses in the same neighborhood or in the same industry can really benefit from building a community that supports one another.

Expanding Your Reach
Networking is also beneficial for helping people expand their circle and reach new people they might not have otherwise met or done business with. For those that are new to the area, starting with a new company, opening a new business or wanting to expand their businesses, networking allows the perfect opportunity to meet new people and get connected with other businesses.

Sharing New Ideas
Whether or not people in the networking group are in the same industry, they can share ideas, bounce thoughts off one another and help create new and different solutions to the “same old” challenges. Getting a diverse range of opinions, advice or support on a topic is one of the greatest benefits of being part of a networking group.

Gaining Referrals
Some of the best advertising one can get is the referral of a friend, colleague or business associate. By expanding their reach and making new connections, businesses can truly benefit from great a great resource of referrals.

Advancing Your Career
Networking isn’t just for business owners and top-level execs. There are benefits to networking if you’re looking for a new job, looking to gain more experience or find a mentor, or if you’re looking to move up the ladder.

Increasing Your Profile
Those that are part of the regular networking scene are the ones that people begin to recognize and see as a source of knowledge and advice. When you’re looking to become a part of a community, this is an extremely powerful tool.

Networking events allow you an opportunity to get out there, make yourself more visible, and introduce yourself and your company to a whole new group of people. There are so many ways that individuals and businesses as a whole can benefit from taking the time to network. It’s usually a social environment, so don’t stress too much about trying to get a hard sales pitch in right then and there. Focus on making genuine connections first, and the rest will come.