The Importance of Franchise Networking

04/08/2018 17:00 | Start a business

Types of franchise networking

 

Though networking is vital to all types of business venture, it’s of particular importance to franchising. Franchising's organisational structure and emphasis on expansion mean that networking is one of the most vital skills franchisees can master. Here, we take an in-depth look at why networking is key to both franchisee and franchisor success.

Types of networking

There are numerous different types of networking events and opportunities. A good franchisee will take advantage of as many as possible, though it’s only natural that you’ll enjoy and benefit from some more than others. These can include franchise shows, community fundraisers, trade shows, and national and international conventions. Within a specific franchise, franchisees can partake in regional and national meetings, social gatherings, and conferences, too. It’s also important to remember that informal networking can be just as essential as meeting other franchisees in a formal setting. Once you’ve made a professional connection, they're only a phone call away, and the relationship is easy to maintain more informally.

How to network

As a franchisee, you’ll probably already have developed the skills required to network effectively. There’s no right or wrong way to network, and every franchisee will socialise in a different style and manner. However, there are many things you can do to make the process a little easier. First and foremost, franchisees need to put themselves out there and expose themselves to social situations. Though you may feel as though the first event you attended wasn’t worthwhile, networking is a numbers game – the more opportunities you give yourself, the more likely you are to make a meaningful connection. Secondly, once you’ve met someone, you need to make sure that you’re accessible and easily contactable in the future. A business card or some other way of exchanging contact information is the perfect way of doing so.

Why is franchise networking important?

Networking is incredibly important for many reasons. Whether you approach networking as an educational opportunity, a chance to unwind, or process that’s key to finding your next franchisee, it’s important to remember that different types of event are suited to different purposes. Make sure you understand what kind of event you’re attending and ensure that you’re approaching the opportunity in the right way.

Learning experience

Networking events are often fantastic opportunities to learn something new. When you attend conferences and meetups, there's usually guest speakers, lecturers, and seminar leaders talking you through a diverse array of relevant topics. Then there are the other attendees with whom you can discuss the franchise model and business practices in general. Networking events are excellent educational opportunities and franchisees should be looking to develop their understanding of certain issues by making the most of others’ expertise.

Exposure to new ideas

As with any type of socialising, networking exposes you to new people, new perspectives, and new ideas. This could include anything from cutting-edge management theories, the latest industry developments, or the latest innovations in franchise structuring and expansion. These new ideas aren’t only for fresh-faced franchisees either. Just because you’re an experienced businessperson doesn’t mean that there’s nothing new to learn. Both franchisor and franchisee can benefit from exposure to new ideas – if you’re not keeping up with latest developments, you’re falling behind!

Find your next franchisee

Larger networking events – those that aren’t limited to a particular organisation or those that only extend invitations to existing franchisees – are an excellent opportunity to look for your next high-flying franchisee. Businesspeople of all types and abilities pass through franchise fairs, and it's important for franchisors to keep an eye out for talented individuals. Talk to as many people as you can, be honest and open about your franchise, show an interest in their professional experience, and you may go home with a couple of potential franchise recruits. Remember, perfect franchisees don’t just magically fall into your lap, you’ll need to put the work in to attract them, too.

Innovative tools and technology

In the modern business environment, the pace of technological change is so rapid that it's often difficult to keep up. However, for most franchisees, it's essential that you do so. Falling behind gives competitors a distinct advantage and can leave you trailing behind and struggling to catch up. Trade fairs and expos are often the places where you'll first encounter technologies that could become the next significant advance in your industry. While you don’t necessarily always need to be an early adopter, being aware of these new tools and technologies allows you to monitor their use and more accurately assess whether they’re going to have a meaningful impact on your industry.

Business opportunities

An essential part of networking events is meeting and socialising with those businesspeople with a shared interest or mutually beneficial business plan. Through networking, you could meet the individual that’s going to give you the big break you’ve been looking for. You may encounter a supplier who can drastically reduce your costs or a future partner who wants to join forces to invest in new technology. The possibilities and opportunities are endless, and the only way to take advantage of them is to get out there and network!

Enjoy yourself

Finally, many people overlook the fact that networking is important because it also offers franchisors and franchisees an opportunity to relax, socialise, and enjoy themselves. With all the hard work you've put into growing your business, you deserve a chance to mix business and pleasure. After all, all work and no play…

Conclusion
As with any other kind of business model, networking is important because it offers opportunities to keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry, experience new technologies, and discuss relevant issues with other like-minded individuals. However, it’s of particular importance to franchising when it comes to finding future partners and discussing ideas with people that have been throughexactly the same process as you. Networking is an essential skill that franchisees should attempt to master if they’re to realise the full potential of their business.

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