The value of networking goes well beyond racking up numbers of LinkedIn connections. When done right, networking increases your business knowledge in a growing number of industries, builds your stature as an expert in your particular industry, and generally enhances your ability to get things done. It’s no secret that one of the best sources for networking is at community banks. The secret is in how to make the most out of this time-tested resource near you.
Why Community Banks are Hubs
Community banks work well as networking centers for several reasons. Their locations are carefully selected for convenience to as many nearby people and businesses as possible.
The people who work at community banks are outgoing and friendly, so they’ve naturally established their own networks and add to them constantly.
As the banks are also major lenders for local construction projects and other high-profile initiatives, they also have connections to business leaders involved in all these deals.
In addition, community bankers strive to join in on dozens of community service events throughout the year. Again, that’s yet another set of connections with which to network.
Last, but not least, there are the bank’s clients. The more connections bankers can make between and among their existing clients, the more likely additional deals and partnerships will develop, generating even more business for the bank.
Beyond Basic Networking
Networking is not blurting out your sales pitch to every new person you meet. Instead, effective networking is all about letting new people know what your expertise is and what you have to offer that will help their cause.
It’s in the community banker’s interest to introduce you to business leaders in their network because that’s essentially an added value they can give to the client. That assumes that what you offer will help that client. Everybody wins.
Make sure to offer introductions within your network to the banker as well. Also, it’s good practice to find out which cafés and restaurants in town are customers of the bank and make it a point to frequent them for your networking meetings.
Time to Network
If you already run an established business, then hopefully you’re used to including networking in your normal day-to-day business activities. If not, you can catch up on lost time by setting up a meeting with your banker some day soon.
For those who are considering launching a new business, there’s no reason to wait for the actual launch to start networking. Your community banker will already have shared insights into how a business like yours can be more successful. Make sure to ask for networking connections early on, so you can find potential partners and suppliers without missing a step.
Networking can improve the success level of just about any type of business. While networking events can yield some results, they are not usually frequented by the business leaders of the community. To find and meet the leaders, you can expect much better results by working with your community banker to identify connections and help make introductions.