As a contractor, one of the best and most long-term efficient forms of marketing your business is networking.
Networking will help your sales, referrals, and even your personal development as you grow as a business owner. It is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business.
What is Networking?
Networking is a process whereby you initiate and develop relationships with like-minded people who share a common purpose.
In this case, it’s finding those who serve the customers you do, but in a different way, and referring them to one another as a resource when the customer has a need.
The key in the definition is that networking isn’t a “what’s in it for me” activity. Like any relationship, it’s about give and take.
Why is Giving More Important than Receiving in Networking?
If you want networking to work for you, and it is a great way to earn work as a contractor, learn how to give before you expect to receive. This is the heart of great networking. It’s all about relationships that reciprocate. The key is who is going to give first and the most often.
It could be in the way of a referral to a general contractor you know who is looking for someone with a skill that you can refer to them. Or, it could be that you’re working on a project and know of a skilled need that you can refer to your general contractor.
You just never know where opportunities are going to come from.
Remember, it’s all about reciprocity.
However, if you don’t do the work of connecting with people, learning what their needs are, and then making connections, you won’t get any reciprocity.
You have to focus on becoming a resource for others by offering them value.
The more value you offer, the greater the return on your networking.
Become a Valuable Resource First
If you connect enough people to one another and become a valuable resource, those you network with will become a resource for you.
You will find in a short time (weeks or months) that you will be sought after because you didn’t go to networking events for the sole purpose of getting work. You came to offer value to your fellow contractors.
You came to be a valuable resource.
This is important… you may not have any resources today or feel that you can bring value right now. While you may not be able to make referrals immediately as you build your network, you can still provide value. Perhaps you can help with an event, volunteer some time to set up a networking meeting, or offer your own professional insights that can benefit those you want to network with.
There is always more than one way to provide value and earn respect.
In order to figure out how to bring value to networking with your fellow contractors, your goal should be to listen and connect.
Not talk and expect.
Be a resource, not a hoarder.
So, before you start expecting to earn work immediately, start showing up and offering value. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can build your network with your fellow contractors, earn their trust, and in turn get referrals for projects that help you grow your business.