Business networking is a vital aspect of every business because it influences its growth. Without business networking, many big conglomerates and companies today wouldn’t have made it. So, what’s business networking?
Business networking is all about interacting and connecting with people for mutual benefit. It is the process of exchanging information and ideas between business people and groups for the sole purpose of growing businesses and deepening relationships. Networking is about building relationships with businesspeople and helping to promote businesses. Summarily, networking is about informing others about your business and hoping they turn into potential customers.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs think of networking as only connecting with like-minded individuals, but it’s beyond that. It also involves connecting with other individuals outside your field. These individuals might mention your name or business to others who might be interested in your business.
Business networking has always existed but was done differently in the past. Before the internet age, it was done using word of mouth. Till today, small businesses network using word-of-mouth. According to an alignable survey, 85% of small businesses said they acquired local customers through word-of-mouth referrals.
But, the internet made networking even better. It provided new tools that enhanced networking. For example, creating a fully optimized LinkedIn profile will suggest people of similar interests. Joining various business groups on Facebook will allow you to meet businesspeople and key industry players that can add value to your business.
Benefits of Business Networking
Successful entrepreneurs like Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos place much emphasis on business networking as a prerequisite for success. This shows building a business without networking is catastrophic and doomed to fail.
Benefits of business networking
New Clients and Referrals
The most apparent benefit of business networking is you add to your clientele. Networking allows you to meet potential clients and get new referrals, which can be helpful to the expansion of your business.
Networking increases the visibility level of your business. In detail, it raises your business profile and makes others see your business. With more visibility, the chances of getting new clients and business partners are high.
Expanding Your Knowledge
Networking is about exchanging information and useful ideas. By taking advantage of your friends’ points of view and insights, you are gaining value. These valuable insights will help you to make better business and financial decisions.
In our fast-paced business world, it’s essential you keep up with market conditions and metrics, especially as they relate to your industry. That’s one of the benefits of networking. You stay updated with market trends, which will influence your business decisions.
Types of Business Networking
Social Media Network
Social media has become an important tool for creating business connections. It helps you to establish rapport with potential clients and keep tabs on them. All you need is to create a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile. It is the easiest business type of business networking.
Casual Contact Network
Casual networking is another typical business networking. If you aren’t afraid to meet and talk to new people daily, go with this. Casual contact networks include groups that hold events or seminars. You can establish a professional network and help your business gain exposure.
This networking group is all about giving and receiving referrals. As a member, you enjoy the benefits of exclusivity. You will obtain a gargantuan amount of referrals from other members.
Professional organizations or associations can expose you to skills and helpful tips that would benefit your business. These associations are peculiar, meaning they are specific to an industry. They hold conferences and seminars with industry leaders in attendance. You can gain insights from top business leaders and fellow attendees.
How to Develop Networking Skills
The business world is more competitive than ever, and strong relationships can make a difference in your business. As the adage goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” However, connecting with others is not easy-peasy for everyone, especially if you lack the skills. Below is how you can develop your networking skills.
The mistake most newbies make is to approach networking without a plan. It shouldn’t be an accident that you are going to a seminar. You must have planned to be there and have an objective of going there. Before you make a plan, ask yourself, “who do I want to meet and do business with?”
Planning without action is the same as not having a plan. Are there any upcoming workshops or conferences for business? Create a schedule and get ready to start meeting new people vital to your career and business growth.
Fear is the biggest opportunity killer. If you are afraid of going to social events because you feel they aren’t worth it, kick that idea out of your head. In social functions, everyone is the same. Take that bold step and grace the event. Pay attention to your appearance, focus on what you can offer others, avoid hard selling, be polite, and remember to bring your business card.
Key to Networking
To excel in networking, you need to be resilient, authentic, ready to practice and prepared to act.
Initially, you will get a lot of nos than yeses. If you let that get to you, your business will not kick-off. Rejections are meant to strengthen your networking approach and push you to keep going, regardless of how spiky the road might be.
A common mistake people make is seeing networking as a job opportunity. Instead, approach it with the right mentality. Be genuinely authentic about picking an interest in others. Networking is about give-and-take. Don’t just focus on taking – approach each conversation genuinely and be able to serve as a connector.
Be Ready to Practice
No matter where you belong on the personality scale, networking demands a significant amount of practice. It requires being strategic, focused, and bringing your A-game to the table. Sometimes, you may be disappointed when your efforts lead to nothing, but it’s not enough reason to back down. Always step on the pedal.
Be Prepared to Take Action
Business networking is about taking that bold step and getting things done. With your great pitch prepared and everything set, it’s time to take charge and make that vital decision to move.
Networking Tips for Introverts.
For introverts, achieving success in business networking can be a bit daunting. The good news is you can overcome it with the following strategies;
Consider Conversational Icebreakers
It’s normal to feel awkward initially, but allowing it to take control of you can be bad for your business presentation. If you want to overcome this, start conversing with the person sitting next to you. You can begin by complimenting their outfit or shows. You can also ask them how they got into the field and what they think about the current issues affecting the industry. This way, you will completely overcome your timidity.
Come with a Buddy
Sometimes, having a familiar face by your side can eradicate all forms of shyness. It makes it more convenient to start a conversation with strangers. Make a conscious effort to connect with other attendees in the venue. More importantly, avoid speaking ill of former coworkers or companies in the presence of your potential contacts.
Take a Breather
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a breather. Go to the restroom, wash your face, take a walk, or grab a coffee. You will return to the room feeling refreshed and more prepared than ever.
Building relationships with businesspeople is not icy on the cake. You need to plan, adopt a strategy, and invest time and effort. It takes time to grow your business network, and you will face disappointment down the road. Awaiting you at the finish line is victory and success. Keep striving!
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