Business Networking is the process whereby entrepreneurs and professionals can meet with potential suppliers, and other business owners who can help you learn from their experiences and grow in business. Networking offers you a wide range of experts to draw on from competitors to customers, all of whom can offer insights, advice, contacts and knowledge.
What are the benefits of business networking?
A key aspect of any business is understanding trends, such as what the market is doing, and keeping up to date with important industry news. A professional network can also offer you important contacts and mentors who can assist with troubleshooting like legal or accounting matters. Networking also offers new insights and opportunities like giving you access to funders, alternative lenders, investors and international contacts.
What are the different types of business networking?
Business networking often takes place at different kinds of industry events for example:
Business Seminars: Here you can rub shoulders with like-minded entrepreneurs and peers and begin to build relationships with people who have the same interest or industry as you.
Networking Groups: These types of groups work well because participants are not necessarily from the same industries but they complement each other in some way. This allows for a symbiotic exchange of support, information and ideas. They can take place online or in person.
Professional associations: Here similar people from similar industries collaborate. These organisations may have entry fees or other requirements to join like registrations or minimum professional qualifications.
What does it take to build a good network?
A great elevator pitch
This is a 60 second summary pitch of your business, skills or service. It’s a good place to mention your accomplishments and main goals. This is where you sell yourself and get others to buy into you, enticing them to take another meeting. An elevator pitch can also be used to simply explain what you do for a living, where you studied and any core facts that are relevant to doing business with you in the future.
Establish a professional online network
This is how you are going to stay in touch with your network as you build it. But it really is just a beginning and you need to maintain and grow your online presence. This will ensure that others can find you, research more about you and connect in the future.
Host virtual networking events
As daunting as this may be, virtual networking events are a great opportunity to meet new people and get their attention. It’s also a convenient way to reach a wider audience. Meeting online allows more people to join and with a tight agenda, people will definitely make good connections quite quickly. According to research, 87% of marketers said that they have managed to generate new opportunities through virtual gatherings.
The bottom line
Of course successful networking requires a lot of creativity and a huge amount of effort. But this really pays off long term. At the end of the day, developing relationships widens the net of opportunities available to you and your business. It gives you the opportunity to generate referrals, gain new clients and pay it forward in a like-minded community. This in turn has the potential to create partnerships and spark new ideas which can only improve your business, and strengthen your professional profile, in the long run.