In truth, the idea of walking up to strangers and introducing yourself or starting a conversation appeals to only some people. Yet, as hard as it is, networking is highly beneficial to your career. It offers the opportunity to meet people who share similar interests and can assist you in your field. It also becomes much more effective when it results in solid and long-term relationships.
To benefit from a network as a business, it is vital to recognize the importance of networking and how it can help turn your service into a product. As such, in this article, we explore the advantages of networking in a business and provide tips to help you network successfully.
What is business networking?
Business networking refers to meeting with, interacting with, and learning from other business owners, potential suppliers, and other business-oriented professionals with significant experience in the field to grow your business. As a start-up or small-scale business, networking provides a pool of experts, from clients to competitors, and allows you to offer something in exchange for their knowledge, advice or contacts.
Networking in business, as with other fields, can be targeted and personalized. Hence, it plays a vital role in different aspects of a business, from sales to marketing. If done correctly, networking can be a cheap and convenient way to explore opportunities with customers, investors, suppliers, distributors, mentors, marketing and advertising agencies, and other relevant players in the business scene.
How to network
There are several ways to network with other business-oriented individuals depending on the type of networking. For instance, business owners can develop close relationships outside their business. These are referred to as personal networks and are helpful in personal development and providing valuable information and referrals. This type of network can be developed with the help of an MSc Finance and Management program, such as the one offered by Aston University Online. Designed for working professionals from all disciplines and industries, you will learn theory and gain confidence as a leader through this degree.
Other business networks, such as strategic and operational networks, can be developed through various means, from social media platforms to webinars and forums. Here are some other common networking opportunities that are available for businesses.
Established entrepreneurs often lecture on specific aspects and topics relevant to their niche. These seminars bring together business owners with similar interests and work styles. Hence, attending such conferences and interacting with other attendees can help expand your contact list and business expertise.
Conversing with strangers can be difficult. However, it becomes significantly easier when a specialized networking group is involved. Business owners can join a club or professional organization focusing on pertinent industry issues. These organizations expose you to referrals, brand growth and personal development opportunities.
Many social media platforms offer professionals the opportunity to develop networks through various forms of online engagement. For instance, you can gather a follower base and post blog updates regarding your recent business activities. Professional platforms such as LinkedIn also offer the chance to identify similar professionals and connect with them.
Advantages of networking
Business networking offers access to opportunities you might otherwise need help to land. For instance, Business Insider states that over 70% of jobs are not advertised on job websites. Furthermore, a LinkedIn survey shows that 85% of vacancies are filled through networking. A substantial list of business contacts can also provide new insights into sales techniques, strategies and ways to improve professionally.
In truth, business processes become much easier with effective business networking. Networking is an effective tool for business development if employed correctly. Here are more benefits of networking for your business.
The business scene is very dynamic, and as such, it changes frequently. Therefore, maintaining a solid and positive relationship with business professionals is an effective way to stay abreast with these changes and the latest innovations. Attending seminars and engaging with social media posts can also help you stay informed about the industry.
Improve brand awareness
A business is nothing without good brand awareness. It helps achieve various business objectives and goals through online traffic, brand affinity and positive leads. That said, discussing your ideas and strategies with other entrepreneurs can help them understand your perspective and buy into your business’s mission and goals. This point holds mostly for start-ups seeking to advertise their services to new clients.
In a dynamic business setting, there are several benefits to having an experienced mentor, from increasing business knowledge and experience to maximizing performance, building confidence, developing valuable skills, and further widening your network. The chances of becoming a mentee to some industry leaders improve significantly. These established business owners usually have a rich contact list and valuable experience. Therefore, bonding with these individuals will benefit your business.
Identify business leads
Identifying business leads is the process of attracting business prospects and increasing their interest to make them customers. Networking with professionals can help you recognize and act on new sales opportunities. This benefit of networking is particularly relevant for B2B companies that rely on other businesses to increase profits.
Conform to industry standards
Interacting with other business professionals can help you understand some standard practices and strategies relevant to the industry. Also, every industry has some unwritten rules that improve efficiency and productivity. As a new entrepreneur, you can only learn about these by networking with experienced professionals.
Tips for effective networking
Networking is not easy. However, there are some tips you can employ to make the best of business networking:
- You should always look for the right people. Connect with professionals who can address a specific business need.
- Developing a network regularly is vital in sustaining profitable relationships. As such, you should be proactive in maintaining a long-lasting relationship with your contact.
- As a business owner, you should strive to remain relevant to your contacts by offering assistance when required. Contacts are more likely to assist businesses that have previously provided helpful aid.
- You should use company events to socialize and interact with other professionals if you work in a company. Attending these events will help you meet key contacts you may see daily.
- Networking can be a spontaneous activity. As such, you should learn how to pitch effectively. This involves a short introduction of yourself and your professional interests. This is often called an ‘elevator pitch’ and allows you to communicate the purpose of your network efforts efficiently.