There’s a famous saying that goes something like this: it’s not what you know, but who you know. And while this overly-simplistic saying is not entirely accurate — after all, you’ve got to know something in order for the people you know to find you valuable — it’s certainly quite true that knowing more people increase once’s chances of success in business and outside of it. There is where business networking comes in.
Pursuing various methods of business networking ensures that you can accentuate what you know with who you know, by introducing you to a large number of people who are in your field or a related one. And, if done properly, it can ensure that your own personal currency — as well as your brand’s currency — becomes more valuable and in higher demand.
What is business networking?
Quite simply, business networking is the act of gathering with a group — however large or small — of like-minded professionals and introducing yourself to them. You’ll talk about anything from your skill set and your past experiences, to your current work and your hobbies outside the office. The goal is to get to know these people and turn them into acquaintances that are of high value. They can, after all, be essentially in recommending your business for future work with their own clients, and they can help lend their own talents to your business to increase its value.
Furthermore, business networking opportunities give aspiring businesspeople or recent college graduates the opportunity to meet a large number of people in the field who just might be looking for a new hire. While these events should not be confused with a job fair, the importance of meeting people in the business world while seeking a business job cannot be understated. Business networking provides just as many connections to the aspiring businessperson as it does to the successful professional looking to broaden his own reach.
Why participate in business networking?
Though you’ll be gathered with smilarly-midned individuals, it’s likely that you all have diverging business plans and interests. And there’s also a good chance that each person in the room has something to offer that can help out quite a few of the other professionals in attendance. This creates a vast network of referral possibilities; building rapport and trust with these individuals helps draw business to your company. Consider that each person in the room has a base of clients who trust them; you want to encourage them to use that trust as a way to convince their clients to bring their business your way. The more they know you, the more they like you, and the more they respect your own business, the more likely they are to assist in getting you new clients.
It has often been stated, in light of how successful this approach can be, that corporate marketing and advertising dollars would be better spent on the fees required to attend a networking event. These events essentially promote word-of-mouth advertisement for a business — and there is no more effective way of advertising to future clients and customers than via word-of-mouth from a source which is already trusted.
How does one go about participating in business networking?
Business networking is increasingly varied in its approach, helped along by emerging technologies that can foster networking events without requiring the attendees to actually attend anything more than a video conference. For decades before the internet, however, the most traditional method of business networking was offline — at a fancy dinner, a weekend retreat at a golf course, or a conference in a large city.
While these are still the predominant ways to promote yourself — or your business — the internet has played an increasingly important role in business networking. It’s because of the internet that many smaller business owners are able to network internationally and grow their fledging businesses outside of their own domestic market. And because of business networking having moved to the internet, companies are able to engage in more networking events per year without paying the high cost of transportation, hotel stays, and comparably higher attendance fees that traditional events maintain.
When is the best time to participate in business networking?
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Business networking is an ongoing process that should be constantly pursued by anyone who owns their own business, wishes to advance in the business world, or is looking to draw more clients to their own employer. The business marketplace has always been competitive and, as competition goes increasingly global and the battle for profits begin to span all of the continents, it will only get more so. That’s why business networking is the most essential — and most effective — way of ensuring continued success and a greater chance for long-term growth. Using the business community as an asset, rather than purely as competition, brings real rewards to all sides of a company’s dealings.
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