With restrictions on in-person events in the rearview mirror, it’s time for franchise professionals to refocus on building new contacts and catching up with existing ones.
While online meeting tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been important in fueling the business world in recent years, the importance of still meeting people in person should not be forgotten. Face-to-face interactions are always much more effective and a better way to build brand awareness in your network.
Now is a good time to get outside again. More and more events are coming back in person.
Do your best to communicate and be involved.
Effective networking often involves preparing information in advance, which can give you more confidence at an event. What you do before, during and after the event is very important. Try to gather information in advance – know the key people you want to speak to at the event. Connect with them on LinkedIn or their business phone/email so you can communicate ahead. Although it may sound simple, you have to arrive early, work the room and stay until the end.
Every aspect of a franchise business can be supported by strong external relationships.
Networking can bring new leads to your sales team. It can find new hires for store or corporate teams. It can establish valuable supplier relationships.
Fortunately, the franchise industry offers no shortage of networking opportunities, from large-scale industry events like the annual International Franchise Association Convention (IFA), quarterly local Franchise Business Network (FBN) and Women’s Franchise Network (WFN) events, franchise exhibits and special conferences.
In addition, valuable networking events for both franchisors and franchisees are specific to their particular industry. Whether you’re part of a salon, pet, restaurant, or other franchise, establish your brand’s presence at local, regional, and national events targeting your specific industry.
These take place in conjunction with smaller local events held by the Chamber of Commerce and associations of entrepreneurs in the community where your business operates.
In all these you can connect with suppliers, other business owners and professionals. Share and learn best practices, hear about new trends and the latest performance stats. You can meet investors, lenders or influential people who are experts in the industry and can be good to know throughout the lifecycle of your business. Stay connected, ask and share advice. You may find or become a mentor to give back to those emerging in the industry. All of this can be exciting and inspiring, give you a renewed focus, give you a sense of confidence and help you achieve your goals.
Networking has been a central part of franchising since the model was established and new opportunities for networking are constantly emerging. While digital networking has opened up a wealth of new possibilities, meeting people in person helps build stronger, lasting relationships. Even if you think you’re just networking, you might make new friends, meet a new franchisee, or meet an investor who can help you and your business reach the potential you always knew it had.