This article will show you some effective business networking tips that will help you to build work relationships and advance your professional network. Business Networking Definition: What is a business network and what are the benefits of such a social network? Business networking can be defined as a marketing tool or a marketing method that helps us to create new opportunities, share knowledge and find new ideas through networks of like-minded business people. It can be very helpful to share information by utilizing a business network of a group of business owners and/or employees with common interests and goals. What are the benefits of business networks:
- Word-of-mouth: finding customers can be a very costly concern if you rely on effective advertising, which is very expensive. Effective business networking allows you to win new sales leads as other businesses start to refer your business to their customers.
- Improve your business performance and products
- Boost your reputation
- Establish staff exchanges
- Help: professional networking allows you to meet with other business owners that might have had to face similar problems in the past that you are facing today, so they are able to help you solving these problems or demonstrate possible solutions for these.
- Reliable Contacts: professional networking allows you to establish relationships with businesses that could be helpful for you when you need a particular service that your business cannot provide.
How to network?
Business networking tips #1: Be an open-minded person
The number one key to networking success is to be a communicative, approachable and open-minded person without prejudices that is absolutely keen on exchanging information with other individuals. This also includes that YOU are the one that approaches others and initiates a conversation (trust me: you do many people a favor by initiating a chat, as they often feel uncomfortable and do not have the courage to do so). Some of them might need some minutes to get into a conversational state and others are just shy, whatever it is: do not let yourself getting affected from their reaction! You will be amazed of the results you can achieve by initiating conversation with various people. The very best is that you get to know each other better and some of them might even approach you the next time you meet each other.
Business networking tips #2: Have some networking goals
It’s always helpful to set yourself some goals that you want to achieve by your business networking efforts. Just don´t try to pursue those goals too straight forward as this might seem rude to others (a very bad goal would be: “I want to make 10 sales!” as this is not the spirit of networking and you might be considered by others as someone that just tries to force your products or service on them!). Some great networking goals could include the following:
- Information – about recent/upcoming trends
- Contacts – make important contacts
- Connect – connect with like-minded business owners
- Advices – find help or tips from other business owners
- Solutions – find solutions and help for your problems
- Client base – widen your client base
- Relationships – establish and advance business relations
Business networking tips #3: “Keep in touch”
The very best business contact will not help you if you do not keep in touch with that person. Quite frankly: it is very important to keep in touch once you initiated a business contact. There are so many different ways to “keep in touch” and it does not necessarily involve emerging by someone’s office twice a week.
- Have a conversation every now and then
- Exchange useful information
- Send your contacts referrals
- Congratulate them for business achievements
Business networking tips #4: The no-no’s
Besides all the already discussed networking tips we should not forget to name the “dont’s” you should try to avoid while trying to establish business contacts:
- How can I profit from this contact?
The spirit of professional networking is to exchange information and by doing so profiting from these contacts. BUT an absolute no-no of business networking would be to only establish business contacts with people that can help you in any kind of way.
“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good” ~ Samuel Johnson
If you set yourself the goal to establish only business contacts with people that can bring you to a more advanced point you might communicate this subconsciously, without you even noticing it.
- Interrupting others in mid-speech
Have you ever talked to some person that was not at all interested in what you had to say, interrupted you whole the time and did not even elaborate on what you just said, only to make his own points? Well, I personally do not enjoy these kinds of conversations. Having excellent listening skills and being able to communicate these listening skills can be tremendously effective when establishing networks. Please note that it could also be considered as impolite to continuously say “Yeah! Yes! Absolutely! Sure!” etc. when your contact is talking to you, as this only implies to them that YOU want to start talking NOW! An excellent mixture between facial impressions, nodding and “Aha”, “Yes” or “Okay!” that is not intrusive works like a charm.
- Blatant self-promotion, trying to force a sale
People that just try to make a sale, brag about all the numerous features and benefits of their products and services or simply try to promote themselves during the whole conversation can be, plain spoken, a real pain. It is annoying when you know that a person only calls you to inform you about their super fantastic new products.
Business networking tips #5: Two different strategies
- The Abundance Method vs. quality relationships
When participating on a networking event or some sort of convention you see hundreds of people applying the Abundance Method with the intent to get to know as many people and to make as many contacts as possible. It can be quite funny to see them “working the room” as they would call it. The Abundance Method is only effective if you are able to leave a memorable impression on the people you have talked to.
The other strategy would be to focus on a few people, but to intensivate these contacts. This is in my opinion a more effective approach as it allows you to concentrate on this smaller group of a people and lets you focus completely on these people. Two essentials when it comes to build quality relationships. Furthermore, it will allow you to get to know the people you are talking to better, as your conversations are longer and more detailed.
Where to do professional networking?
Amongst all the previously named networking tips you surely might ask yourself where you can effectively implement all the methods named above! Luckily there are so many ways to network with other business owners so I will only name a few very effective ones:
The best way to establish professional networks to business owners that are in the same industry as you would be by focusing on industry conventions or conferences where a lot of people from the same industry meet each other.
- Social media
Another way to do networking is to make use of social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Meettheboss, PartnerUp, Qapacity, Ryze or XING. These social networks are mainly helpful to stay in touch with people that you already know. A lot of people do not want to establish new contacts via a social networking platform on the internet as they use it only for their already existing contacts.
- Networking events…
… are great! These events target people that are interested in professional networking and want to establish new business networks and to meet other people. It is a great opportunity to exchange your business cards and get to know a lot of like-minded people.
- Networking groups
Networking groups that have regular meetings are an amazing way to establish quality contacts as you will have the chance to regularly meet and connect with these people; most of them highly interested in professional networking.
The above named networking tips allow you to establish and advance your business networks with a dozen of amazing people across your industry. And keep the most important networking tip in mind: “Do it!”
Further information: How to Network
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What are your tricks for effective networking?