Competitors Are Not Your Enemy – Part 3 – Networking

With so many networking opportunities out there, take a minute and see which ones are doing you the most good to get a “leg up” on your competition.

Competitors Are Not Your Enemy – Part 3 – Networking

This is the third article of a three part series that discusses why “Competitors Are Not Your Enemy. Part 3 focuses on “Networking,” a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money.

Many people think of competitors as the enemy. Not necessarily true. There are ways they can help you (listed below) and today we focus on number three.

1. To help validate your business idea is worth doing.
2. To learn what and how they do things.
3. Networking methods.

In a free market, businesses start up to fulfill a demand – this is what you are doing. Take your business idea and investigate what types of networking methods are available.

Networking is about building a relationship with someone and learning if one or both of you can benefit. This is best when both of you receive some form of a benefit. There are situations when one person gets more benefits, which is okay too as long as both parties understand this.

The best networking is done physically face-to-face. You can watch body language for signs of continued interest in the discussion. If they are tuning out then time to change subjects or find another person to talk with. With technology, the face-to-face can be done with online video which is the second best. Other ways include various types of forums and blogs, which are all written communities. I suggest you include an appropriate picture whenever possible (Example: If you are a CPA, do not have a picture during a party holding a beer, you want to instill trust and this type of picture does not).

There are a few general types of networking which can be physical and/or online meetings:

  • Local and/or national trade organizations relating to your industry.
  • Local and/or national organizations about general business.
  • On the spot opportunity.

Organizations relating to your industry

The local and/or national trade organizations relating to your industry can put you in contact with your competitors and is a great way to learn more about them on a one and one basis. Just about every industry has at least one national trade organization and some have local chapters in certain cities.

I was a partner in an Executive Suite and Secretarial service and there was a national and local chapter. The local owners and managers would meet once a month for socializing and sharing some information. There was an annual national convention with far more of both. Having and knowing our competitors helped all of us. Our location, pricing, fully occupied, or services may not meet a person’s needs so we would refer them to a competitor, and our competitors to us.

General business organizations

The organizations about general business include a Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and numerous others. These are great to share information and find something different you can apply to your business as a Unique Value Proposition (what you do better).

On the spot

The on the spot happens when standing in line, sitting next to them, at a party, or any place people are together. You never know when you find someone doing something the same or related. Use your Elevator Introduction and monitor how well the conversation is going so not to overwhelm or bore them. They could become a supplier, customer, referral, and maybe a friend.

Remember, whether you call it networking, schmoozing or rubbing elbows, meeting and interacting with other business professionals is a cost effective way to connect with local, national and global business people that can assist you to learn about your competition as well as set up business leads to grow your business!

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