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Making Business Connections & Networking Effectively

It can get lonely in business. Whether you’re flying solo or running a small team, when it’s just you making the decisions and steering the ship, things can get pressured and stressful, leading to costly mistakes and even burnout. The simple way to overcome this is to build a solid network of business connections. Surrounding yourself with the right people can be a key part of a successful business strategy. The best way to meet new people is… you guessed it, networking. Use this Complete Guide to Business Networking and let’s explore why these statements are true. 

An effective network will consist of people who inspire you, help and support you, provide a sounding board, offer different skills, knowledge and experiences, refer you, make introductions, collaborate with you or become customers, improved business growth, and more impactful connections.

What is Networking?

Dictionary: “The action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

Networking is the process of meeting new people to add to your acquaintances. Networking effectively goes a step further to identify those that are a great fit for you and your business and build relationships with them. 

Networking can be carried out face-to-face and virtually. The pandemic saw a huge rise in virtual events, and their ease and popularity mean they are here to stay.

Learn more about the importance of networking from this recent Hubspot article.


Reasons Why Networking is Important

Networking is the most effective way to meet the right people. When you get to have conversations with people and uncover more about them as people, their values and their business, it’s much easier to detect if they might be someone you want in your closer network. The alternative might be to target people on LinkedIn based on job titles, send a connection request and then begin the process of engaging with them to the point of having an actual conversation. Although this method works, it can be a lengthier process. 

Networking is a quick and enjoyable way to get yourself in front of many people. Giving talks or presentations will build authority faster. Showing up consistently to a group you like will build your reputation and increase your visibility, keeping you top of mind for the others in the group. As you get to really know the people there, you will start building a strong support network. If you find the right kind of group, this could include business support, people to bounce ideas off, and different perspectives on your ideas, all leading to growth and sustainable success for your business. 

Having this kind of support network can also reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. As many people work from home or run a business alone, it’s easy to feel cut off from people. When you build regular networking into your week, however, you get vital social interactions and start to build relationships with people who will become regular sources of contact. 

Networking will also help you to gain additional skills and knowledge. You’ll learn from the people you meet, or you may find that the group you choose has regular training to help you improve in different areas. A world of possibilities will open up as you discover skills you didn’t know existed. Personal development makes up a large chunk of the benefits you’ll get when you network effectively.

Of course, the benefit that draws most people initially is the sales. We’re in business, right? So we need to make sales to stay afloat and make it all worthwhile. When you show up regularly and authentically to talk about your business and get in front of lots of different people, the sales will naturally increase. You’ll meet some people who need your product or service and others who will see some synergy between your businesses and want to collaborate or become a referral partner. When you’re clear on what you offer and who it can help, you make it easier for people to make introductions and referrals, so don’t be too broad or too generic here. 

10 Benefits of Networking

So now you understand what it is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at our top ten benefits to networking.

Strengthen business connections

Networking is a great way to strengthen your business connections and relationships. When you find the right group and attend regularly, you’ll build stronger bonds with the other members. They will become more familiar with you and your business to fully understand who you help and how so they can refer you more easily, and vice versa.

Gain fresh perspective

When you work alone all day long, it can be hard to get inspiration or to look at things objectively. You might get bogged down by minor details and struggle to see the wood for the trees at times. A fresh pair of eyes is often all it takes to help gain some clarity on something. Whether that’s an offer you’re putting together or how to deal with a tricky situation. Networking as part of a membership community provides an opportunity to test the water with ideas, reach out for advice and always  have someone available who is happy to cast a fresh eye over a problem. 

Check out this LinkedIn article on how networking can boost your personal growth

Advance your career or business

Networking allows you to meet with other professionals who are further along the journey than you are and, therefore, able to help guide your career path if needed. They may be well-connected in your industry or just have a strong network of their own and be able to put you in contact with your dream client.

Gain knowledge

One of the most underrated aspects of networking is the personal growth that takes place. When you network effectively, take time to ask questions and really listen, you can level up your business and personal skills exponentially. This might  happen through free taster sessions, training provided by the group you’re part of, general chat, and discovering courses and services for continued growth and education. The list is endless, and a wealth of knowledge is just waiting to be absorbed by all who desire.

Gain confidence

As you get into a regular networking rhythm, you’ll find that your offer becomes more refined, and you’ll start to really shape who you are looking for and why. Your confidence will grow with every room of people to talk to. Before you know it, you’ll happily talk about yourself and your business without ever feeling uncomfortable and wondering what to say.

Fresh ideas

You’ll meet a wide array of people from all walks of life with a myriad of skills. When a group of people like this come together, you can benefit from the hive mind, where many brains work together to problem solve or brainstorm fresh new ideas.  

Reduce loneliness in business

Whether you’re a solopreneur or the boss of a team, it can get lonely being the decision maker, with nobody to bounce ideas off or have a quick social chat with over a coffee. So having a network of people that you see and speak to regularly, whom you’ve built relationships with and enjoy being around, can have an incredibly positive effect on your mental health. 

Increase visibility

By building your network, you’re increasing your visibility. When you take the time to grow strong connections with people, it’s likely that you’ll be top of mind when they come across someone needing your product or service and will make an introduction. If a client needs a freelancer with specific skills and expertise, they’ll think of someone in their own network before searching for one on the internet or in other publications.The more people who know about what you do and how good you are at it, the better chance of getting new business (and referrals).

Discover more opportunities

It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. How many times have you heard that? And it’s often true. The more people you can bring into your network, the more opportunities you’ll discover as you learn about them, their needs, their client’s needs, ideas and offers they have. 

Surround yourself with the right people

This means being selective about who you spend time with and avoiding negative people who don’t share your goals. Don’t be afraid to build close relationships only with those who fit your criteria and align with your values. The most effective way to do this is to open up and share information about you as a person so that the right people notice you and want to know more. 

Business relationship examples

Not all business connections will want to become a customer. So, it’s a rookie mistake only to go networking to find clients because there are plenty of other golden opportunities to be had. Being clear about what you do and who
you do it for can result in a healthy and varied range of business relationships. 

Referral Partners

It’s highly likely that there are other businesses out there that complement yours. They offer services that you don’t but could form part of a chain of things a customer will likely need. For example, you’re a graphic designer, and your customers will likely need a copywriter, brand photographer, email software specialist etc. Forming close relationships with people in those areas means you can all become referral partners. The benefits of this extend not only to each other’s business but to the clients that enter this chain and are given high-quality referrals to meet all of their needs. No legwork for them trying to find the right people and no chance of choosing someone dodgy. A definite win-win.


Have you ever gone networking and felt your energy drop when you realised there were others in the room doing what you do? The thing is, we all do our thing differently, we have different specialities and ideal customers, and this is where collaboration can be so powerful. Passing work to these people and vice versa can be a great way not to get stuck doing those jobs you hate. You may even choose to white-label each other in this instance. If you are reaching capacity and don’t want to turn work away, or are looking to scale, so need the work to build up, outsourcing some of that load is a great way to increase capacity without taking on staff straight away. Some collaborations may just be a case of packaging up your complimentary skill sets into one customer offer. This could be in the form of a course, workshop, ebook or project.


You may find some business besties! Yes, it is possible to form some fantastic friends through networking. They could be close to you if you met face to face, or they could be at the other end of the country now there are no geographical barriers with virtual networking. Don’t underestimate the power of great friendships on your business.


Most of us need a push in the right direction to keep us moving, right? When working alone, it can be hard to maintain focus or do the things we know we need to do, but that maybe are a little tricky or boring. Procrastination
usually sets in, and the to-do list just gets longer and longer. Finding an accountability partner can be just the thing to keep you on track and doing the tasks that will grow your business. 

Professional networking tips - Our guide to business networking.

You can’t just rock up last minute and hope for the best. To get the most out of your networking, you’ll need a little forethought and planning. Here are our top tips. 

Know your “Why”.

This is a very important step in the process of networking effectively and building a strong network. Get clear on what you want to get out of each networking event, as well as what you can offer in return. Take a little time before each event to understand why you are attending that particular event and what your goals are for being there. It might be that you don’t want clients that week, and instead, you’re looking for someone to collaborate on a project
or a referral partner. Whatever it is, get clear before the event.

Make a good first impression.

First impressions are powerful, so bring your best self. You could meet your dream client or perfect referral partner, so make it count. Simple gestures such as making eye contact and smiling can go a long way. Knowing why you are there and what you want means you’ll feel and act more confidently.

Here are some tips from Forbes on how to make a great first impression.

Be a good listener! So many people simply wait to say their piece without really listening to the other person. When you show real interest in others, make notes and ask questions, you’ll be remembered fondly for being so attentive and interested. 

When networking online, turn off distractions. Popping your phone on do not disturb, closing or muting notifications on your computer goes a long way in helping to build and keep rapport. If you were at a face-to-face event, would you check your phone mid-conversation? (If you answered yes to that, you might need to evaluate your people skills!)

Be excited.

Let your passion and personality shine through. Talk about client successes, who you’ve helped and how, but also talk about you, the person behind the brand. If you love dogs and rock climbing, tell people! These are things others will resonate with.

Follow up

This is a vital step! If you go to a meeting, and there is someone there you really feel could be a great connection, it’s vital to get their details and follow up with them to book a 121. Attending a meeting is only the first layer of building your network. The real gold is in the 121s, where you dig deeper to learn even more and find ways to help each other.


Networking events examples

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to choosing events, and of course, you can mix it up if you want to. 

Face to Face

These are great if you just love being around people physically. If you love the buzz of energy in a room or you fancy networking over a meal, this is a great option. The drawbacks are the extra time and cost of getting to and from them and geographical restrictions. You may also need to pay an additional fee on top of your subscription for the event, particularly if it’s a meal. 


The pandemic saw most activities, both business and recreational, move to virtual models, and for networking, it has really taken off and worked well. The ease of simply clicking a button and being in a room full of people from all over the country or globe is a big draw. There are no additional costs beyond the group subscription and no wasted travel time. 

Read more about the rise of virtual networking in this article from Forbes.

Strict and Structured

Some groups have a very clear agenda and can have more of an emphasis on passing referrals than anything else. These groups are highly driven and focused and best suited to those who are highly focused and love regime and structure. These groups can be incredible for building business. However, the drawback for many is the high pressure to do the things expected, as this can prove too much for some people.

Relaxed and Fun

This doesn’t mean it’s just all a big giggle and no business gets done. It’s just that the style of the meetings is much more relaxed. You won’t be tied into any commitments, such as a 12-month membership or always attending the same group week after week. The Cobra Club sits in this category. Our members can cancel their subscription at any time and attend whatever meetings they want on any day they choose. It’s relaxed, fun and friendly, often with a strong emphasis on building relationships.

Membership VS Free

There are numerous free networking opportunities. Some are only free for a trial period, and others remain free for life. If money is tight, you could choose only to attend free events. However, the drawback here is that although you may meet a lot of people, you won’t necessarily build any strong relationships that lead to referrals, collaborations and clients etc.

Membership fees can vary wildly, and some will require a 12-month commitment while others will be rolling monthly. The Cobra Club is incredibly good value at only £25+VAT on a rolling monthly basis. 


In Conclusion

So, in summary, it’s clear to see that networking has numerous benefits. With a range of networking options and price points, it really is suitable for any budget and preference. Finding at least one group you like and attending some meetings regularly will integrate you into a community and really strengthen the know, like and trust with others there. By being intentional and giving some thought to what you are looking to achieve before each meeting, you’ll see much better results. So, all that’s left to you is to get out there and find your group! 

If friendly and relaxed online networking sounds like it could be for you, come along and try out The Cobra Club for free. Get started with the Guide to Business Networking.