Are self-employed people and sole traders actually loners? After all, many of them work neither in a team nor in a shared office. And since regular exchange or teamwork seem difficult as a result, many outsiders assume that self-employed people are lone wolves. But that is not necessarily true. Because thanks to a good network, self-employed people not only gain valuable business contacts, but also find like-minded people to exchange ideas with and, with a bit of luck, even real sparring partners. But let's start at the beginning. What networks are there for the self-employed? How does networking work? And why are contacts actually so important? We uncover!
What is networking?
Networking means building up business contacts in a goal-oriented way that benefits all the people involved. The most important thing right from the start: building a network does not mean handing out business cards and hoping that someone will get in touch. On the contrary, good networking is characterized by active and continuous relationship management. After all, it's about building trust and getting in touch with others.
Strictly speaking, there are even different types of networking: On the one hand, it can be about meeting potential customers. And on the other hand, networking is about finding partners with whom you can exchange ideas, motivate each other and discuss ideas. These kinds of relationships are also incredibly important for your business. Because thanks to them, you get feedback, support and benefit from the knowledge and experience of others. This not only saves time, but also a lot of nerves.
Where do you meet business contacts?
Especially as a self-employed person, you should therefore build up a solid network of contacts. Where you can meet other self-employed people and entrepreneurs for networking? Here, for example:
- at trade fairs, events and industry-specific events
- at trainings, seminars, meetings and conferences
- in local or regional entrepreneurial networks
- at regular get-togethers
- on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Xing and LinkedIn
Networking: Online & offline
If you don't have much time for personal networking meetings, you can easily find new contacts online thanks to social networks. Because there are now numerous groups and communities on all kinds of topics related to your business. Whether it's self-employment in general or your industry in particular - you're guaranteed to find the right community on Facebook, Instagram, Xing and the like.
Away from the digital world, business contacts can of course be made just as well - if not even better. After all, nothing beats personal contact. If you regularly attend an event or a regulars' table every few weeks, you will quickly meet like-minded people. And with a bit of luck, networking can lead to long-term partnerships, business relationships or even friendships. So it pays to be there on the spot!
Networks for different target groups
Some regulars' tables and networking meetings are a mixed bag, especially when it comes to local entrepreneur meetings. However, there are also networking events that focus on a specific target group and deliberately bring together the self-employed who have something in common. For example, there are networking meetings just for women that cater specifically to the needs of self-employed women entrepreneurs.
Likewise, there are networks for self-employed persons with disabilities. This target group naturally has completely different questions, concerns and needs that are addressed. No matter which group you belong to or in which field you are self-employed: business contacts are extremely helpful to network and grow together.
Networking: How it works
Relationships need to be nurtured and cared for. This also applies to business contacts. It's important that you connect with partners you're on the same wavelength with right from the start. That's why we have 4 tips for you to make your networking a success:
1. define a goal
What is your intention? What do you expect from new business contacts? And what are you willing to invest in possible partnerships? Time? Knowledge? Only when you have defined your goal and know what you are looking for, can you find the right people.
2. quality instead of quantity
As with good friends, it's not the quantity that counts, but the class. It's better to have fewer but good business contacts with whom you can really go above and beyond. reach your goals can!
3. one hand washes the other
Networking is about give and take. If you have knowledge or contacts that your partner could benefit from, offer them to him. Don't think of them as competitors, think of them as colleagues. If you only want to gain value from others without giving any yourself, you will quickly make yourself uninteresting and unpopular.
4. be authentic
Don't be an imposter, stay authentic and natural. If you use networking events to show the world how successful you are, you've missed the point. Score here empathy, naturalness and a sympathetic charisma.
We hope you have fun networking and make lots of interesting business contacts!