Making the Most of Networking Opportunities

March 13, 2018

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With everything involved in running and growing a company, many small business owners may feel there are not enough hours in the day. Because of this time crunch, business owners may focus so intently on their company that they fail to form connections with the surrounding business community. They may also avoid networking events out of the assumption that they’re populated by salespeople trying to sell products or services or that these events are simply a waste of time.

However, when they’re approached correctly, networking can be an extremely valuable tool for owners of businesses of all sizes. Fostering relationships within a networking community can help leaders find solutions to persistent issues, create opportunities to collaborate, or provide new opportunities for mentorship. At the very least, socializing with like-minded people can help build or strengthen friendships while also fostering external business relationships.

While many leaders may understand and appreciate the benefits of networking, some may not know where to begin. Here are a few tips to help identify and select the right community to share thoughts and ideas.

Find the right fit

Many small business owners quit networking after attending just one event. This may be due to gatherings that lose focus or seem to be an avenue only for salespeople to approach attendees. In order to avoid this sort of situation, look for well-organized events that focus on bringing the economic community together.

Identify groups that host events focused on a variety of topics of interest to local business leaders, as these events often offer valuable opportunities for networking and information sharing. For example, an event featuring a panel of experts discussing the future of a particular subject or trend (including advice for company leaders on how to best prepare for any upcoming changes) would be a good option.

Weave networking into daily life

Although organized events can provide opportunities for individuals to socialize and strengthen relationships, networking can happen anywhere. A frequently visited coffee shop, bookstore or sporting venue can also provide business owners with the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who may be able to help advance business objectives.

Look for shared interests

Look for events attended by other individuals with shared interests who are dealing with similar issues. The largest networking group may not necessarily be best. Sometimes a lot can be learned from smaller groups or business organizations that feature leaders from unrelated industries.  

Prepare and research

Before attending a networking event, research the names and backgrounds of key participants or presenters. This may include reviewing LinkedIn profiles or checking to see if the presenters have been quoted in recent news stories. First-time attendees should also consider developing a concise summary, or “elevator pitch”, to explain and highlight what their company does.

Bring an open mind

When attending networking events, business owners should recognize that they are there to provide information about their own experiences and expertise while also taking in the thoughts and advice of others. The most successful gatherings result in one-on-one relationships where both parties benefit.      

Above all else, business owners should remember that networking events should be enjoyable. Owning and running a business involves a lot of hard work, requiring long hours and endless dedication. Networking should not feel like another chore. Instead, it should be a rewarding, beneficial, and fun experience for business owners.

About Insperity
Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity. They are located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 31 years provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.

Kay Oder

Insperity

Kay Oder has owned six companies, has been a resource to thousands to businesses and brought solutions to help business owners minimize risk, improve business performance and navigate today’s highly regulated and complex “business of being an employer”.

Today, Kay uses the insights gained throughout her career as a speaker, business owner and business advisor. Audiences enjoy her candid, informed perspective on HR related topics as well as her razor-sharp southern wit.

Kay is also a Certified Business Performance Advisor with Insperity, the $2.6 billion business performance solutions provider she has called home since 1993. Kay has consistently been among the company’s top producers during her 20 plus years with the organization, earning Insperity’s highest honors, including the Top Volume, Circle of Excellence and the Chairman’s Club awards.

Prior to Insperity, Kay was the President and Co-founder of Texas Valve Specialists, a supplier in the oil and gas industry. She has also owned companies in the construction, demolition, machining and promotional apparel arenas. She spent four years as a client of Insperity and upon selling her last venture, joined the Insperity team.

From an early age Kay demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning at age six when she sold cantaloupes from her parents’ front yard, which she offered three for fifty-cents, with a free puppy.

Kay and her husband, Dale, relocated to Austin from the Houston area in 1996 when a theft occurred in their family: their granddaughter was born and stole their hearts, so they had to follow.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.

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