Business networking is about establishing professional relationships with people of similar interests to leverage your business on personal grounds. If you notice, business networking is nothing new, and people have practiced it for decades. We have come a long way from exchanging business cards to joining the Indian Chamber of Commerce business network.
People in business share different opinions about networking when it comes to businesses. You may hear your aunt saying it is overhyped, and businesses are doing well even without it, whereas the opinion is par reality. Networking is a necessity. I mean, how can you imagine a business growth without letting people know about your product, service, or ideas?
Stay tuned with me to discuss over and all, everything about business networking!
Business Networking – What is it?
Business networking means creating a mutually beneficial relationship with business people and clients for intangible and mutual gains. Experts are of the opinion that networking does wonders, especially in small businesses. If you observe the journey of any successful venture, it primarily focuses on its networking, be it Quora or Linkedin.
It gives us a pool of beneficial people, allowing us to offer something in exchange for advice, knowledge, ideas, referrals, services, contacts, empathy, or information. You can avail of multiple benefits while growing your business network, including an increase in sales, business efficiency, brand awareness, and morale.
Many businesses are lucky enough to get their potential suppliers from business networking only. Porter Gale, an internationally known public and motivational speaker, says, “Your network is your net worth”, and I can’t agree more.
Powerful Advantages of Business Networking
It is undoubtful that business networking is powerful! It is a strong and adopted strategy of various successful startups. Let me discuss some business networking benefits with you to prove my words.
It allows you to
- Identify opportunities for partnerships and collaborations.
- Discover new areas of expansion
- Adhere to the new technological ideas
- Approach new talent
- Benchmarking your business venture for the required upgradation
- Connect with like-minded people and mentors who can assist you in troublesome situations
- Elevate your business profile
- Adds value to your brand by increasing awareness and recognition
Meeting people, online or offline, makes profitable changes to your business. You will notice it yourself when the number of sales increases along with productivity, offering new business opportunities and solutions to thousands of issues.
Networking can be done for multiple purposes, including,
- Lead generation
- Business improvisation
- Hire people
Let’s take a hypothetical scenario where you are facing issues determining users’ journey to your website, so how will you benefit from business networking? You can simply create a post tagging people of similar work interests, and they will give some tactics and strategies to better understand your users.
A fun fact: Even early men used to network. How? Can you recall your childhood memories when you used to read and learn about paleolithic men exchanging information about a newly discovered freshwater body? This is nothing but networking and is more useful when business gets involved.
Types of Business Networking
Cultivating business relationships is smart, but you must know the right plan. Moving ahead without knowing what suits your business would be a blind strategy with a high chance of failure. So, better understand the kinds of business networking before reaching any spot.
Business Events & Seminars
If I simply out, you can understand events and seminars as social gatherings to discuss business-oriented ideas. There is training, information, crucial discussion, and communication to comprehensively analyze any thought, topic, or idea. I believe that it is the most natural way of expanding your network. Attend events, get to know people genuinely, and make like-minded connections that last a long time.
Similar to hiking, acting, and books club, there are clubs dedicated to business people having a shared interest, that is, business. There are ongoing discussions, engagement activities, social networking events, and competitions that you can participate in. it is imperative to find the right club for you. You may be an aspiring entrepreneur, a successful startup owner, or just at the edge of switching your business ideas, but social clubs will never leave you alone.
Business Networking Groups
Business Networking groups provide an open opportunity for people to get connected online or offline and expand their networks for business enhancements. You can easily find groups for young professionals, budding entrepreneurs, and booming business ventures. Networking in the flash or cyberspace doesn’t create much difference, but if you ask me, I prefer face-to-face networking. It allows in-person discussion and adds value to your presence in the scenario.
Do you know that there are properly dedicated trade or business associations oriented for businesses only? Industry-specific organizations always work if you want a certain kind of buyer of your product or service. You can get loads of qualitative information and associate with agreeable minds. All India Association of Industries is a prime example of such a trade association in the business world.
Must-to-do Business Network Building Practices
While you are done with choosing the exact path for moving ahead, you must know the accurate business practices to deal with your networking right. Some are not doing it right, or some are overdoing it.
I have created a checklist of some to-dos.
- Start with joining online business networking groups.
- Attend social gatherings that are business networking events and seminars.
- Ask for formal introductions or recommendations.
- Take part in conventions.
- You can exchange business cards, though; it is not-so-alive practice anymore.
- Join social media and connect with people
The last one is my favorite, and it really helps even if you are a beginner. You are not spending money, dressing up, or going out. Simply create a profile and get connected with people of common interests. You can start posting something to get more engagement.
Some Failed Networking Practices
Balancing is important! Recently, my friend started getting inbox messages from a sales professional explaining his product. It became a norm for him to receive his texts now and then, and he couldn’t help any better way other than blocking him.
It is a proper example of “overdoing.” People doing this or similar practices must stop right away.
- Adding too many people on social networks, that as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, can be a blunder. Go for quality and add only people of similar interests.
For example, I have a digital marketing firm, and adding people from the IT domain may not work great for me. I should try making connections between writers, marketers, social media managers, UI/UX designers, and HR recruiters.
- Sending mass e-mails or texts to community people is a highly wrong practice, and the receiver may end up blocking you (if receiving them repeatedly).
- Talking about your business at informal gatherings, weddings, and festive celebrations won’t work much. Your friends and relatives may get irritated in the place of appreciating the idea.
Just like in real life, valuable relationships matter in business too.
Tip: LinkedIn is one of the most beneficial platforms for building your professional network.
Useful Business Networking Clues
When you know what to do and where to do it, the next question is, “how to do it?”. Go through the following pointers that I have created as tips, and you be well-versed with the right techniques to ace your business networking plans.
- Keep a clear vision of your goals. It can disturb your money-making plan and networking strategies if you don’t know what you are aiming at.
- Research well about whom you should connect with and how to maintain those professional connections.
- Stay honest and real. Ask genuine questions. You can make them interesting.
- Be responsive to texts, phone calls, emails, and whatnot.
- Keep growing and building your network. There is no limitation to network building.
- Be polite while having a conversation.
- Try to stay in front (of course, for good reasons), and don’t hesitate to take up the leadership role.
- Make sure to prepare well before addressing people in online or offline events.
Business networking establishes business relationships that work both ways. Even if you are willing to make connections, ensure the other person is equally interested in shaking hands with you. Try to build strong social connections and begin with social media platforms.
According to the former head of Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment, Sallie Krawcheck, “Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.”