Business networking is a mutually beneficial socio-economic business activity where businesspersons, entrepreneurs, clients, investors, or other such stakeholders come together and forge business relationships. The idea here is for the businesses to tell people about your business with the intent to convert them into paying customers.
How Does Business Networking Work
There has been a renewed excitement about business networking, and it makes you feel that it is an entirely novel concept. That, however, isn’t true. The concept is relatively old and has been around since the time people first began communicating. So, why the buzz, you may ask? The internet age, which we are all a part of, has brought forth a portfolio of some really important tools.
Business networking has often been thought of in terms of getting new business, but it does have a solid role to play in job search, career change, hiring, selling (of course), establishing and improving business performance, and for a number of other professional goals.
Benefits of Business Networking.
The single most apparent advantage of business networking, done right, is that you get to meet and create relationships with loads of new people, potential clients, or even referrals. These new contacts can bring new partnership opportunities, joint ventures, or even new arenas for the expansion of your business.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” An old adage that proves true in any context. Business networking involves meeting and communicating with potential clients and business partners with some frequency. Active networking solidifies your personal profile and keeps your business fresh in the minds of the right people.
The business climate is dynamic, volatile even! This means you can only adapt if you are always aware of the modern developments and trends in the industry. Attending seminars or other networking events keeps you aware of these ever-changing trends so that you not only create stronger relationships but also are on your toes about what your customers are expecting from a business like yours.
Better Problem Resolutions
You cannot exist as an island. At different junctures in your business journey, it is only natural that you may encounter specific business problems that can be resolved with the help of certain other businesses or individuals. Business networking provides the right contacts to help you solve the problem efficiently.
Access to Greater Knowledge Base
As your network expands, so does your access to knowledge and experience. This means when you are making business decisions that are beyond your comfort zone, you get the benefit of your entire network, their knowledge, and their experience. It may not seem like much, but it can end up saving you from bad investments!
How do you Build a Business Network?
At this stage, you are aware of the fact that building a business network brings about multiple crucial advantages for your business. Now, it is time to learn how to build a successful business network.
Join Business Networking Groups Wisely
One of the most effective ways to build your business network is by joining the right business networking groups. There are multiple business networking groups that can prove beneficial for you and your business. However, it is essential that you invest some time exploring different groups and choose a business networking group that:
- Aligns with your business goals
- Has members who you can benefit from
- It is relatively easy for you to actively participate in
Network in Real Life
It may seem like an old-world solution, but nothing beats networking or meeting people face to face – in the real world. This can be done best by attending business networking events. Now social media platforms of a variety, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are all good, but they are not as effective as the good old conversation in real life. So, it might seem like a great idea to scroll through LinkedIn and learn how to endorse on LinkedIn or even find endorsements on LinkedIn. A face-to-face conversation lets your network put a face to a name, discover your charm in person, and give you a chance to bond over typical interests.
Improve Communication Skills
Your communication skills are critical when it comes to business networking. This is true for digital or offline networking. Strong communication skills are more than just your extraordinary command of the language. Positive body language in communication brings an edge to your interactions with other business owners. When you have a confident body language, you are not only likely to be more memorable but also put forth a certain sense of competence in your business niche.
Offer Solutions that May Help Others.
The majority of business network groups are built on the idea of exchange. It may be the exchange of services, ideas, knowledge, or even support. Hence, the most essential skill you must develop in yourself for better business networking is – listening. When you listen carefully, you have the ability to come up with solutions for others’ problems. Offer value. Eventually, it is about give and take. If you do not have anything to offer but have only been asking for more and more, the chances of you forging a long-term relationship are thin.
Keep Yourself Updated
Keep a keen eye on industry trends, get meaningful insights from reliable sources, and make sure that you are updated with the latest trends. This is probably why there is a growing trend of executives and professionals going back to school to continue their education. Upgrade, update, and keep learning to stay in sync with or ahead of the curve.
Identify Your Goals
Any activity must be driven by a clear goal. This is true in the case of business networking as well. If you have no clue what you want to achieve through business networking, how are you ever going to achieve it? This goal may vary from one event to another. You may want to simply contribute your time and expertise to the community, soak up information from other experts, or may even be looking for referrals. Irrespective of what your goal is, the idea is to have clarity before you head to the meeting, seminar, or business networking event.
Invest in the Relationships
Strong relationships form strong networks. To nurture relationships and make them stronger, it is essential that you invest your time, money, and energy. In this give and take relationship, those that give have the most vital business networks in place.
Be kind & Appreciative.
No matter how small, any act of kindness must be appreciated. Understand the importance of the effort taken by people in giving you anything that is of value to them and express your gratitude. Appreciating someone for their effort goes a long way in solidifying your relationship with them, and you are seen by the peer as someone with a stronger moral compass, hence easier to trust.
It is easy to feel let down, to feel disappointed, or low in general. If you are feeling this way, be sure that there are others who go through it as well. Make a conscious effort to only spread positivity and stay away from any opposing thoughts or acts. This is a quality that everyone looks for in their relationships. Incorporate positivity, and you will soon see your business network flourish and strengthen.
The blog post talks about business networking and the benefits of business networking and lists out practical tips for successful business networking.
The main point is to be clear about what you want to achieve through business networking before you get going. Though many people believe business networking only involves taking what you can from the community, the more effective way to form a successful business network is to give as much as possible.