The life of a restauranteur is busy. Very busy. Probably so busy that the last thing you want to do is stand on your feet for hours on your day off, talking to other restaurant people. But networking is vital to your restaurant career.
Staying on Top of Industry Trends. Trends come and go fairly quickly in the restaurant industry. When something is hot you can make a lot of money, but if you keep a trend around too long after it is gone then you could end up losing out in the long run. The key with trends is hitting the sweet spot. What’s in? What’s out? What is coming next? You have to be “in the know” when it comes to trends. The more industry people you know, the more aware you will be of industry trends.
Hear New Ideas. The business issues of an owner/operator/manager are not new. We all want the same thing; higher profits, lower costs, satisfied customers, and loyal employees. This will never change, but the industry is continually improving how we pursue restaurant bliss. State-of-the art technologies, cutting-edge software, revolutionary training techniques, and more are always being created, renewed, and improved. The best part is, you don’t have to go out there and try them all for yourself. You just need to talk to operators with a similar profile to yours who have tried solution A, B, or C to judge if it could also be a good fit for your operation. The more industry people you know, the more new ideas and experiences you will hear.
Discover Creative Solutions. As mentioned above, our issues are not new. But with everything online now, there are creative ways to do more with less. This is especially true with education and marketing. By networking, you can find out what your colleagues are reading (or listening to) to keep themselves educated on industry topics. You can also find out where they are concentrating their online marketing efforts, and/or which get the best returns for the least investment. The more industry people you know, the more creative solutions you will discover.
Find Career Opportunities. Whether you are actively looking for a change or were told to pursue one, it is likely that at some point you will find yourself looking for new opportunities. It is no surprise that people are more inclined to hire people that they know, or for whom they can get a trusted recommendation. The more industry people you know, the more job opportunities you will find.
Networking is like everything else we try… the thought of starting may seem daunting or exhausting, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. So, get out there and get networking! Who knows, you might even have fun while you are out there improving yourself.
For more insight and tips on networking read: Getting Started: Networking in the Restaurant Industry.