Business Networking

Networking…well, although this term has gained popularity since the inception of Internet, it has been in existence from the time humans began interacting with each other! Sociocultural evolution during the Paleolithic age connected people to share information and tips regarding hunting, foraging or fishing. Well, this is networking. With the inception of Internet, especially social media, business networking plays a crucial role in business development and helps achieve success, as long as it is done correctly.

So, what exactly is business networking? It is a process of building connections and establishing relationships with people of similar interests to leverage business, boost knowledge in a certain field, and develop contacts. The key to successful networking is building relationships with the right people. Networking, if done the correct way, can help you reach great heights of success, be it to start your career or achieve professional goals. A business network can be established by sharing ideas, tips, referrals, information, and all that is required for successful networking via social media interactions, phone calls, emails, meetings or gatherings and so on. A strong business network can help develop great business opportunities.      

Now-a-days, social media plays a vital role in business networking. A lot of professionals connect with each other and build business relationships through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Similarly, popular business-oriented websites like Ryze and Ning help professionals build their networks online. Blogs too have proved to be a good technique for networking.

Business networking via social networking websites comes with its own set of advantages. These websites help you to connect and build business relationships with individuals from different parts of the world, and without stepping out of your home or office. Social media websites offer an apt platform to build business relations with potential customers or business partners. Apart from social media networking, face-to-face discussions, joining existing business networking groups or creating a one of your own, attending networking events, or networking on online forums also enables individuals to establish successful business networks.    

Well, business networking is majorly about building relationships with people who share your business interests. Although it sounds simple and straightforward, it might not be so. Activities like distributing and collecting business cards, sending mass emails and attending networking meetings might not always work. You need to understand your business networking goals. Some important tips for effective business networking are provided below.

Understand your business networking goals

Prior to developing business relationships, it is important that you develop a networking strategy for your business growth and stay focused. Understand your networking goals so that you attend the right meetings, join the apt group, meet the right people and stay connected. Whether online or in person, decide the appropriate platform for meeting individuals.    

Build genuine relationships

Business networkingis effective only when the relationship is genuine and built on trust. Be honest to those with whom you would want to connect professionally. Apart from expecting help from others, see how you can help them to achieve their business goals. Meet people, enjoy the atmosphere around, enquire about their businesses and carry out positive interactions. If you meet someone who fits your criteria, work towards building a strong relation.

Ensure that you receive a clear response for your questions

During meetings, ask questions to engage individuals and listen to them. Expect detailed and clear responses. Raise questions that will lead to discussions. This will prove that you are interested in building genuine business relations. If you meet someone with high possibilities for authentic business relations, ask for their business card and then, follow up. Apart from gathering information and getting your doubts cleared, make sure that you too respond to their queries, emails, etc.     

Have fun and enjoy

Create a cheerful atmosphere by enjoying conversations and having fun. Individuals prefer to be around those who are fun-loving and relaxed. Listen, ask questions, and show interest in other people’s ideas. This is a good way to engage people and build fruitful business relations.   

Give before you take

To establish a strong network, it is important that you help others. Offering referrals, tips, information, or any kind of help, will establish a good relationship. Be constructive and avoid being defensive. Maintain your integrity and reputation. Individuals look forward to building their network around trust-worthy and helpful people. And, when you help others, you will also receive help in return.  

Be proactive

Focus on your business networking strategies and plan your activities accordingly. Manage your time, especially while attending meetings so that you can meet sufficient number of people. On understanding your business networking goals and after building relations, you will get a better idea of your business growth and find great opportunities to meet your business goals.

Strong relationships and mutual trust lead to successful networking. Build relations to gain and give business. Networking is a great way to meet people and leverage your business to great heights of success.

Amareta Rodrigues

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