As business owners, franchisees have to learn to master the art of networking. Because within the franchise industry we are in business for ourselves, but not by ourselves. Networking is a pivotal element to expand and grow your franchising business.
When a franchise opportunity knocks on your door, having the right networking connections can help you expand your business and learn more about franchising.
Ways to Connect with the Franchise Community
Networking within the franchise community gives you the opportunity to gain tremendous insight into the industry, and see best-practices from other franchise owners that might have more experience than you. Networking also offers you the chance to learn about what your competitors are doing. Think of these networking events as a way to gather information about other franchise owners as well.
Networking events are the perfect place to expand your knowledge of the industry, tap into new trends, and build up a community that feeds on each other. The franchise community also gives you many potential alliances that you would not be exposed to otherwise.
The first step to accessing the franchise community is by joining franchising associations. Most franchisees are already part of some franchise association. Here are some franchise associations to start connecting with the community:
- International Franchise Association (IFA)
- American Association of Franchisees & Dealers (AAFD)
- National Franchisee Association (NFA)
Building a Franchise Network
However, being part of these associations means nothing if you are not an active member of the franchise community. To build a secure franchise network, you need to implement networking techniques that help you foster valuable relationships.
To make sure you make the most out of your networking experience, make sure you use the following networking techniques:
Research before the event: Look up key players in the event and research their current business endeavors to see how you can establish an alliance.
Work on your elevator pitch: Have a solid answer to the “what do you do?” question. Your elevator pitch will set you apart from the rest.
Work on handing out cards: Make sure your business cards are handy and that you do not make a mess of yourself trying to hand out a business card.
Now that you've mastered these steps, you have to think about how to use your networking skills to build a strong franchise network; these are the contacts you will leave with after the event that will eventually become part of your business network. Here’s how you foster your networking connections:
Keep track of people: Bring a small notepad or type notes on your smartphone to keep a record of the people you meet.
Be an active listener: Instead of talking all night about yourself, ask questions and listen to what others are saying: their struggles, their wins, their ideas.
Offer help: Following that last technique, offer your support to those who talk about a struggle; empathy is a great business connector.
Keep in touch: You do not establish a connection if you are not able to meet after the networking event. Call or email those you met at the event and schedule a meeting to discuss further points.
Franchising Networking Opportunities
Luckily, networking opportunities pop up everywhere. From small businesses networking events to major conferences and events, there’s always a networking opportunity around the corner. However, that does not mean you should attend every networking event out there. Instead, study the events coming soon to a town near you and see which ones best speak to your business needs.
When it comes to franchising events, shows, and conventions, these are some of the opportunities happening in 2018:
The Franchise Show – Florida
IFA Legal Symposium – Washington
IBA/IFA Joint Conference – Washington
The great American Franchise Expo – Texas
Franchise Development Seminar – Minneapolis
The Franchise Show – Texas
International Franchise Expo – New York
IFA Franchise Action Network Annual Meeting – Washington
The Franchise Show – Florida
Franchise Expo Midwest – Illinois
The Great American Franchise Expo – California
The Franchise Show – Georgia
The Great American Franchise Expo – Arizona
The Franchise Expo – Texas
Frantech: Franchise Innovation Conference – Texas
The great American Franchise Expo – Colorado
The Franchise Expo – Nevada
Emerging Franchisor Conference – Florida
The Franchise Expo – Philadelphia
The Great American Franchise Expo – North Carolina
For more details on these networking events, click here.