Randall Castillo Ortega of RACO Investment discusses using a network of contacts to boost an SME

Networking is a basic concept in today’s business and is becoming the first step in developing a company. Networking and partnerships with other companies are very valuable tools for the growth of a business at all times, not just at the beginning. Building a company based on contacts can be a solid business strategy. Randall Castillo Ortega, an entrepreneur and founder of SME backer RACO Investment, explains what entrepreneurs have to do to exploit this technique to the fullest.

To have a successful and long-term professional career, networking must be one of your priorities. Many times, it can be confused with being a sociable person, but networking is based on maintaining long-term relationships and creating a good professional reputation. It involves attending industry meetings, meetings and events, to meet other professionals that you can support with your knowledge and experience. This network includes everything from friends and family to co-workers and industry players.

We have all heard of the six degrees of separation rule where all the people of the world are somehow connected through six contacts. This number is even lower in business. It’s surprising who you can have connections with in common on networking platforms like LinkedIn, or even closer ones like family and friends. Explains Castillo, “Everyone knows someone and it’s a single person that can be the key to unlocking the next stage of your business. You can meet potential investors, valuable freelancers or the last member of the sales team. However, at the most unexpected moment, the right person can arrive and you have to be prepared to be able to sell your business.”

Traditionally, the strategy would be an “elevator pitch,” in theory, short enough to be counted from one floor to another. But, it is possible to go further and condense the business proposition and its benefits into just one sentence. It’s easy to focus on the details especially if you’re passionate about what you do, but not everyone is interested in the small details. Think about how you would explain your business to an 8- or 80-year-old and you won’t go wrong.

Some of the world’s most recognized business leaders have attributed part of their success to hiring people who can’t or don’t know what they can’t or don’t know, and this is a vital part when you’re building your network of contacts. Many times, businesses seek to open new markets to grow. This is a natural step for a company but for it to work, indeed, you need local experts. Even if you can identify other potential markets for your business – whether inside or outside Europe – you won’t get the local knowledge.

Regional differences, however insignificant they may seem, can slow down the process of hiring a new office. For this reason, it is worth getting local contacts who can guide you in the first steps as your business grows. When you’re building your network of contacts, think about the mutual benefits and support them when possible. Considering what you have to offer as a business to support your contacts is a very important factor. Many times, a personal recommendation or a meeting with the right person can help you a lot.

In a world where your online brand is as important, if not more important, than your offline brand, social media and websites are the keys. “Carrying out activities on social networks can help you expand your network of contacts,” adds Castillo. “One of them could write an article for your blog or you can share events with them that can help you both with networking.” Today, when we operate in an interconnected world, the art of networking is more important than ever, both offline and online. Both locally and globally the power of your contacts can help you succeed in your business and take you to the next step of growth.

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