What is business networking? [10 Tips to Successful Business Networking]
In this post we are going to talk about business networking, right from the definition of business networking, skills for business networking like body language in communication, how to endorse on LinkedIn, lead funnels, establishing entrepreneur network, and significance of business networking groups.
Business Networking – definition
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 – the benefits
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 fairly old and has been around since the time people first began communicating. So, why the buzz, you may ask! The internet age, that 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 strong role to play in job search, career change, hiring, selling (of course), establishing and improving business practices, and for a number of other professional goals.
Let’s talk further about the different benefits of business networking.
- New contacts
- Greater visibility
- Staying updated
- Better problem resolutions
- Access to greater knowledge base
The single most obvious 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 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 latest developments and trends of 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.
You cannot exist as an island. At different junctures in your business journey, it is only natural that you may encounter certain 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.
As your network expands, so does your access to knowledge and experience. This means when you are taking 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 can end up saving you from bad investments!
Business networking can turn out to be truly effective or entirely useless, depending on how you actually execute it. Even the best sales pitches may get you nothing, if you make it on a non-descript email, and no matter how good you are, simply handing out a business card may not get you the results you have been dreaming about!
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 know how to build a successful business network.
Here are the top tips to build a successful business network:
- Join business networking groups wisely
- Aligns with your business goals
- Has members who you can benefit from
- Is relatively easy for you to actively participate in
- Network in real life
- Improve communication skills
- Offer solutions that may help others
- Keep yourself updated
- Identify your goals
- Find & give a reason for follow-ups
- Invest in the relationships
- Be kind & appreciative
- Spread Positivity
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 important that you invest some time exploring different groups and choose a business networking group that:
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 gives you a chance to bond over common interests.
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 awesome command on 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.
Majority of business network groups are built on the idea of exchange. It may be exchange of services, ideas, knowledge, or even support. Hence, the most important 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, chances of you forging a long-term relationship are thin.
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.
Any activity must be driven by a clear goal. This is true in 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.
Simply making a connection is not enough. You can’t stop there. The idea is to nurture this new relationship. Stay in touch with the people you met, through meaningful interactions at least a few times in the year. This could be an invitation to a seminar or to read a great article and you can do this, even if you are not actively looking for an exchange of favors.
Strong relationships form strong networks. To nurture relationships and make them stronger, it is important that you invest your time, money, and energy. In this give and take relationship, those that give have the strongest business networks in place.
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 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. Take a conscious effort to only spread positivity and stay away from any negative thoughts or acts. This is a quality that everyone looks for, in their relationships. Incorporate positivity and you would soon see your business network flourish and strengthen.
The blog post talks about business networking, benefits of business networking, and lists out effective 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 you can.
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