Benefits of Networking

Benefits of Networking for MSPs

Given that many MSPs get their clients mostly by referrals, I thought I'd remind everyone about the benefits of networking ...

Business Opportunities : Customers, Suppliers, Peers

Clearly, one of the main benefits of networking and developing your list of contacts is the direct opportunities they bring in terms of sales, business-development, joint-venturing and other synergies you can exploit to help grow your business.

Exponential Number of Connections

If you have a pound coin, and grow your ‘fortune’ by 1% per day, you'd have a pound and a penny after day one. After a week, you'd have made just over 7 pence compound interest and in a month it’d be around one pound and 35 p. Not a lot, you might think. However, If you continued to grow this investment at 1% a day for 10 years, you'd have nearly 59 BILLION TONNES of pound coins. If, instead of growing at 1% per day, you grew at 2% per day, your stack of pound coins would be around 15 times the weight of the sun. Such is the power of exponential growth, even at (seemingly) small percentages in grow rates.

And so it is with networking, where you have the potential to create relationships with not only those people that are in the meeting but their contacts and their contact’s contacts and so on. Think of LinkedIn and how many first, second and third tier contacts you can quickly amass. Mind-boggling stuff and certainly a potential way to grow your database fast, given the right conditions.

Access to Shared Resources

By leveraging other people’s assets (e.g. databases, software, office-space, contacts etc), you can quickly multiply the power of your own resources. ‘Piggy-backing’ like this means you can do more and be more, quicker and better than you ever could alone, plus you can provide more (and better) service when you magnify your service offering by leveraging other people’s resources.

Friendships & Personal Connections

When you meet people on a regular basis, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up developing friendships and relationships that transcend pure business which can spill-over into your personal life in the form of life-long friendships, romances ... potentially more. As we typically spend such a large chunk of our life at work, it makes sense to enjoy that time as much as possible and this means getting along with people. Bolstering your list of personal friends is no bad thing and as well as improving your social life, it means that you can get help, advice and support outside of work. Some of these connections are liable to become lifelong friends and partners.

Positive Influence : Grow Personally

It’s a simple fact that business people often (not always) have more ‘get up and go’ about them than employees. It’s been said that your income will resemble that of the five people you hang around with most. If you’re networking with business people, you can choose to gravitate towards those that offer the most in terms of helping you with your personal growth on your business ‘journey’. You’ll know them when you see them.

Rapid Testing of Ideas

Having a network of business people that you trust (and who trust you) enables you to get feedback about ideas and opportunities, in a non-competitive environment, which may be more forgiving and candid than testing directly on clients. You’ve got a ready made sounding board to explore your ideas.

Develop Social Skills

Not everyone is an effective sales-person or confident speaker or has the ability to entertain their audience. Rightly or wrongly, this seems especially common with technically-proficient individuals. Therefore, the ability to practice soft-skills such as these, in a relatively pressure-free environment, is a real bonus that can pay dividends in all manner of ways.

Improved Credibility

When you’re part of a (trusted) network, some of the credibility associated with your peers rubs off. It’s a form of social proof and people feel comfort in the perceived safety in numbers. Not only that, being accountable to the ‘tribe’ as a whole creates a kind of feedback-loop as well, as you’re more likely to be extra vigilant in giving above-and-beyond service when you know others are watching you. The service-level of everyone in the group inevitably goes up. As a corollary to this last point, it’s possible to help other members of your network to get better reviews (online and offline), resulting in more social proof for you and them.

Feedback & Benchmarking

Very often, your peers and colleagues may give you honest advice and feedback where your customers and clients would simply never tell you. Whether it’s feedback about a member of staff or indirectly letting you know how you rank against a competitor in a particular context, it’s useful to be able to get this feedback and this is an often under-utilised aspect to networking.

Get Fresh Ideas / Perspective

We all have problems that stump us or occasionally have blocks to our own creativity in some way. Using your network for brainstorming and creativity can be a useful (and fun) way to see past the end of your own nose and break out of limiting thinking. Helping other members with their brainstorming will likely also elicit ideas for your own business as well as strengthening your group’s cohesiveness.

Familiarity : Being Visible & Reminding People About You

Like, know, trust. It takes a while for people to get to know you and the process of trusting someone certainly doesn’t happen in a single encounter. Being in front of people - multiple times - is key to developing familiarity and consequently allowing people the opportunity to like, know and trust you. Additionally, the very fact you show up regularly in their world reminds them about you, your business and the opportunities you bring, thereby increasing the frequency with which you’ll receive referrals and other inbound opportunities.

Access To New Information / Techniques / Trends / News

It’s easy to become blinkered to your own world, your own way of doing things and stuck in a rut. Exposure to other businesses in a networking environment can help give you access to new ways of doing things and provide insights into important news and events in the business-world that could otherwise easily slip by. If there’s a well-informed grapevine out there, it pays to be part of it,both for avoiding problems (such as well-known bad-payers) and accessing opportunities (e.g. knowing when a new business is opening up).

Build Confidence

Confidence should be taught at school, it’s that important it deserves a subject in its own right. Put simply, confident people do more and get more.

Confidence comes as a result of skill and practice. Even if you do nothing else, simply turning up regularly and speaking with people outside your business can help develop the skill of better networking, which is, in itself, a very useful skill to have.

Having Fun

Who says networking has to be just about work? Socialising, team-building and recreational activities can all be built around ‘networking’ - all of which serves to make for better relationships (and consequently more business and opportunities) whilst having enjoyable, memorable experiences whilst doing so.

Everything’s possible from golf or paint-balling locally for a few hours to weekends away with spouses/partners on a skiing holiday in a foreign country - you’re only limited by your imagination and readiness to get involved.

Satisfaction From Helping Others

Job satisfaction is at the very heart of a happy professional life. Few things are more rewarding than seeing a colleague reaping the benefits of some business you’ve put their way or help you’ve given them.

We’re hard-wired to help people (and reciprocate) as part of our tribal past which required mutual-cooperation to survive this harsh world. Working towards a ‘higher purpose’ is the apex of man’s self-actualisation, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Support & Synergy.

We all need help at times. Business, like our personal lives, is not much fun if you have to do everything alone. Having access to the help and support of reliable, trusted colleagues is not only essential in business but also profoundly comforting too. Emotionally (and in terms of productivity), our species is simply not designed to operate for long periods of time without help and support from others.

Synergy comes from cooperating with other people and getting more achieved than you can alone.

Lastly - here’s some interesting statistics I found :

I hope that's got you thinking and that you are now more keen to start reaping the benefits of networking!

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