Business networking is usually shortened to “networking”, which usually is confusing to many with computer networks, relating to net connections and accessibility to multiple computer systems. Business networking is different. It is an effective (proven through time by many businesses) low-cost marketing approach for developing or growing sales opportunities through contacts, referrals and introductions. These are usually done face-to-face, or through physical interactions through meetings, events, gatherings, and sometimes through phone calls, emails and now, through the increase of heavy users on social media and business networking platforms online.
Business networking is one marketing method wherein you make the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” work for you.
Here are tips you can use for to make your networking efforts work:
1. Be prepared.
Opportunities for networking may present themselves anytime, anywhere. It is important that you are always ready to meet new people. You have to know by heart what you can offer to these people. And not only that, you also have to know what information you actually need, so you don’t get lost in the middle of the conversations you’re going to have with the people you’re going to meet. You can start your preparation by keeping an open mind. Plan your networking events in advance; write down your schedules and whom you’re meeting. Be aggressive in knowing the next “it” events from the people you meet. Seek out like-minded individuals from the events you attend, as well as more experienced peers. Always have a business card on hand. Having a card available makes it so much easier for you to follow up with these people you meet, and for them to really remember who you are. Add keywords at the back of their name cards on topics you have discussed when you met personally for better recall in your next interaction.
All great relationships are built on give and take. To be able to play and work effectively at the same time, you must be willing to give. Humans are wired and driven by their desire to be reciprocal. As best-selling author and Professor Cialdini puts it, “reciprocity is one of the most powerful influence and communication techniques. The power of reciprocity, and our human desire to want to give back to others who have first given to us, is one of the most effective ways of building a supportive network.” Invest in giving and reap back its rewards in time.
3. Be in the right places.
Networking’s end goal of course, is closed sales. It is impossible to be able to do this by just depending on phone calls, and digital marketing efforts and staying in your office. It pays to actually get out in the open- to be where your customers are, or are likely to be. Determining which fields of businesses can best help you can be a great start, and then go where you see it is most likely to find the people you want to meet to reach your goal. Make sure you are subscribed to the e-newsletters of the biggest business associations in your industry or foreign chambers of commerce groups and take part in their regular activities. That is when and where you meet the right people for your business.