“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” A repetitive statement, yes, but anyone in the business world knows this statement to be true. No matter how experienced and educated you are, having a foot in the door will drive others to advocate for you.

Networking is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, attain new clients, gain credibility and trust, and tell others about your business. It is truly an essential skill that is rooted purely in how we interact with others. In order to advance your personal and professional life, a solid network will serve you well for years to come, and there is no better time than now to strengthen or build your own network.

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West Chester, PA is a close-knit community, and home to 19,000+ residents. Being able to make connections and maintain relationships in the town you live, can be the key to success. Going out of your way to develop your skills further and meet other intelligent individuals will give you that ability to call upon your network in the future. Enter – The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. GWCC is focused on helping you make successful community and business contacts to help get your networking started.

GWCC will become the foundation of new business for your company, helping you learn how to network in West Chester, PA:

1. Start networking before you need it

Think of it this way, you receive a phone call from someone you have not been in contact with for quite a while. You pick up the phone and right off the bat they ask you if you know anywhere that’s hiring. You may not resent the call, and may even be happy to help them, but that nagging little voice in your head may say something like, “This person hasn’t kept in touch with me for a while, and now they are only calling because they need something.”

Aspiring business owners may often reach a point in their career when they need advice, but have no clue who to turn to for direction. Why? They do not have a network. You have to put in the necessary time to build genuine relationships with the right people. You are who you surround yourself with, so try to immerse yourself in rooms full of successful and connected people.

2. Think long term and listen

So you have reached out and started networking before you needed it. That’s great. But

networking is not just about exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. It is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Be patient, take the time to build that relationship and stay in touch with people you like. Equally important, listen to what they are saying. People love to talk about themselves and appreciate when you take a genuine interest in what they have to say. Listening, in the long term, will help you get to learn about a person’s challenges, and get to know them better. Ultimately, that will lead to a more productive professional relationship.

3. Step out of your comfort zone

Being a part of a town like West Chester, it’s easy to gravitate to the people we know and the situations that make us feel comfortable. Most people don’t feel comfortable walking into a room of strangers and talking to them, and that is completely understandable.

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But doing so is exactly what is necessary. You need to leave your inhibitions at home and strike up a conversation with someone new! If needed, start small. Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a food line, on an airplane, or at a clothing store. Almost every situation can be a networking opportunity – you don’t have much to lose!

4. Utilize word-of-mouth

Learning how to network in West Chester, PA resorts back to recognizing that it is a close-knit community. Word-of-mouth is one of the best forms of advertising for your business, not to mention, it’s cost-effective. It just takes one client that likes what you do, so offer them a free session or free product after they refer a friend. Providing something “free” is a great way of showing that what you offer has value. You may eat a little money, but it keeps new clients coming and current clients willing to market for you. It is okay to sacrifice a couple bucks for a good payout at the end. Get creative, the more creative you are the more the town will talk. News travels fast in small towns, and it’s the best way to get your network started.

5. Know your goal and have a strategy

Before you begin networking, establish why it is you are doing it. Ask yourself questions like, “Is it to find more business? Is it to set up a team of experts? Am I doing this for career development?” All of these are valid questions to ask yourself to determine what the goal of your networking is. Determining that will make it easy to decide what the best ways of going about it are, and ultimately, form your strategy.

6. Join the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce

Joining GWCC to help you network in West Chester, PA is a great way to get your name out there. You will have a community of business people at your disposal and will get to know them in a casual environment. At GWCC, we meet several times a month for various events such as new business openings, speaking engagements and small business workshops; all to increase the effectiveness of local relationship building. The bigger your professional network, the more trusted referrals you’ll get.

Networking can help you generate new sales leads, deepen connections with existing contacts and learn useful information about the West Chester markets. At the end of the day, the purpose of networking is to help you advance in your career. The foundation for that is taking advantage of the access you have been given. Reach out to the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce today to get started on networking your business.