Due to the pandemic, the need to network for your franchise to succeed has become more important than ever before. In fact, whilst it was always a necessity, we would go as far as saying it is now indispensable. And despite the changes to how we network that have occurred over the past two years, the benefits remain the same.
Paul Dodgshon, the Sales Director of Business Partnership, believes networking is essential for any business owner if they are to retain a competitive edge and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry. It is also a great way to meet prospective mentors, partners, and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources. Here Paul gives his advice on the benefits of networking and how it can contribute to the growth or sale of a franchise.
What do you think of when you hear the term networking? Small talk with a room full of strangers or over Zoom? The obligatory business card exchange? Handshakes? For most people, networking is a nightmare. I get it. When your calendar is already overcrowded with work appointments and family commitments, the last thing you want to do is chat with strangers at yet another breakfast, awards evening or online. However, getting yourself out there and making connections with like-minded people is an essential component of career success. So, here are the top five reasons why networking is essential for the growth or even the sale of your franchise.
- You develop long-lasting relationships and meet good franchisees
No matter what industry you are in, knowing the right people is the key to success. This has never been truer than when looking for suppliers and potential franchisees. Attending industry conventions and networking at events can expose you to many new faces that may be interested in your business. Sure, when looking for potential franchisees, you could employ recruiters to conduct talent searches. However, at fairs, exhibitions, awards, conventions and virtual events, you may find franchisee candidates or suppliers that can take your business to the next level or would like to buy it from you. You will also become aware of what talent is available in the market. When networking, I would suggest focusing on meeting industry experts and people close to your line of work; this way you will be able to meet the right kind of people, and your chances of benefitting from it will increase.
- You discover new opportunities
A natural perk of networking is that people start noticing you, which in turn opens the door to new opportunities. Networking events give you the chance to meet like-minded businesspeople to forge new investment ties. You may find this leads to an acquisition or new ways to reduce your costs and boost profits. Some networking events even provide opportunities to learn about new technology products and services that can add value to your business. Networking will also help you market your brand and make a more significant impact in a shorter period. One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that you can now step outside of the traditional networking borders using sites like Zoom and online business groups. Before you would connect locally or at a conference; now virtual networking has opened the door for you to benefit even more from networking’s many possibilities.
- You can grow your status
Making connections is a powerful tool for growing your business or selling a franchise because it helps you stand out in the business community. As mentioned above, being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. By regularly attending business and social events, people will begin to recognise you. This can help build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by offering helpful information or tips to people who need it. You are also more likely to get more leads and referrals as you will be the one that pops into their head when they need what you offer. When you stand out in both your expertise and the services you offer, it creates room for partnership, which then builds trust. To grow your status, I recommend adding value to the people you are networking with. For example, interact with their social media accounts and offer your services if they need help with something. By giving before you get and asking if you can help, you will be surprised at how many favours you get in return.
- You can exchange ideas and learn about new industry trends
Networking is less about connecting people and more about connecting ideas and opportunities. When you network, you will often meet people with different perspectives who are bubbling with new ideas and fresh viewpoints. These people are invaluable for you to stay ahead of the curve and innovate within your franchise. Meeting these kinds of people exposes you to the latest trends, innovations, changes and techniques for restructuring business in an uncertain economic environment. So, by networking, you essentially have the chance to learn new things that will help you keep ahead of your competitors.
- You get out of the office
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to start networking as a franchisor. However, last but by no means least, it gets you out of the office. We all need a bit of fun now and then, and meeting new people or catching up with colleagues can be fun. Interacting with people will not only help you build new business contacts outside of the office or conference room in a more relaxed environment, but it will also help you seek guidance from experts on various business issues and have some fun in a more casual atmosphere too.
So, it is clear that networking can fast-track your career growth and improve your standing within business circles. In fact, having a good reputation with a wide range of people will increase your chances of getting referrals and business opportunities. I would urge you to also network outside of traditional networking circles. Test out new groups and when you find the ones which work well for you, be present. Turn up regularly and be part of every meeting. You never know who someone may be able to connect you with or what you might learn, but the outcome could be amazing.
Paul Dodgshon is Sales Director of Business Partnership, a unique national franchise network of 20 regional offices connecting business sellers with business buyers. With over 15 years’ experience helping businesses sell quickly at maximum value, Paul understands the practical and personal issues involved in selling a business, and Business Partnership provides a personal, professional and confidential service to buyers and sellers alike.