Business networking is the process of establishing mutually beneficial relationships with other business people, potential clients and customers. The primary purpose of business networking is to tell others about your business and, hopefully, turn them into customers. Networking, if done correctly, should guide you to future business opportunities, and sometimes secures immediate returns.
Networking expands your contact listings, increases your visibility in the marketplace, allows you to remain current, increases your confidence level and permits you to share your knowledge and experience with others. There are any number of opportunities for networking, both formal and informal. Attendance at business conferences and seminars, the professional use of social media pages and blogs, joining associations and professional fraternities all help the marketer find a platform and audience to share their products and services.
Everyone in senior leadership, as well as entrepreneurs, must acquire great networking skills. This personal form of marketing and communicating often requires the ‘networker’ to engage in face-to-face encounters with others, but it is not limited to just these engagements.
These persons are not always gregarious individuals who get ‘up in your face’ and try to capture your attention, but rather skilled communicators who, within seconds of discussion, convince you why you should pay attention to them.
We have often heard it said that people buy you first. This statement holds true, and reminds business professionals that people must learn to trust you and like you before they buy from you.
Successful networking requires strategy. Here is how some do it best:
They pay attention to their reputation and communication skills.
They broaden their scope of networking and employ various methods of engagement.
They are great at bridge building, and follow through with follow-up calls and e-mails after relationships have been formed.
They revive previous connections by combing through e-mails and old contacts.
They use technology and networking apps to remain on the cutting edge.
They always have well-presented business cards and use them strategically.
They take notes and notifications on the business cards they receive, and reference them in follow-up conversations.
They secure a networking partner and leverage that connection to promote the combined strength
Start trying to find new and creative ways to network today. Remember, it has to be deliberate and intentional.
• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.