Let’s be honest. When most people think of making an investment in their business, their minds become clouded with thoughts of dollars and cents. They think about the cost of equipment, websites, lawyers, accountants, advertising, payroll, etc. Entrepreneurs especially feel the strain as they often bootstrap and throw all of their personal funds into their ideas.
You are often competing against numerous other companies that are already established and have the funds to create a competitive advantage. This creates a situation where you must try and create some sort of advantage for your company that your competitors cannot. So the question is, how can a company that has limited financial flexibility compete with the more established companies and eat away at their competitive advantage?
We need to take a closer look at the different types of investment strategies you could employ to give your business have a shot at success. One relatively inexpensive, often forgotten investment strategy that can prove to be very effective in the quest to expand your business and professional/personal brand is networking. As simple as it sounds, networking is one of the most cost effective ways to take your business to the next level. Networking, when done correctly, exposes your company, product/service, and brand to other business professionals, advertisers, sponsors, and potential clients. If business owners began to look at networking more as a strategic business opportunity and less like a necessary evil, they could begin to see an increase in profitability. Research has shown that effective networking can be directly related to increase in a company’s bottom line.
In the simplest of terms, networking can be defined as the process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities. With that said, it should be no mystery why perfecting this skill is so imperative to the success of a growing business.
The costs associated with networking are often very minimal, and some networking events are even free. Those that are not may have an admission fee that ranges any where from $10 to $50 per person, a modest fee that will pay significant dividends.
In addition to networking, most business owners should also look to spend some funds on clothing, accessories, business cards, etc. This step is often cast aside as superficial; however, it should not be overlooked as first impressions are about 70% of the networking experience and, thus, should be taken very seriously. It is important to view every individual you meet (both inside and outside of a formal networking event) as a potential ally with whom you can build a mutually beneficial relationship. This is why your appearance and personal brand should be carefully considered.
When all is said and done, the pros associated with networking can far outweigh the costs. Although you may not yet be able to afford high end investing practices right away, most anyone can jump right into the networking circuit in order to help their business expand.