HOW DOES BUSINESS NETWORKING WORK?
We live in an interconnected world now, however old good networking is not outdated, it has simply evolved.
What is networking? Briefly, it’s the process of establishing mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses as well as with potential customers, suppliers and employees.
There are both obvious and subtle benefits derived from the network related activities, from the acquisition of new contacts to the visibility and sharing of experiences.
Source: The Balance Small Business
First and foremost, it’s important to have a genuine interest in meeting people, therefore a “hard sell” approach is not recommended.
These are some useful keys when trying to establish new relationships:
- Being open, honest and friendly towards potential collaborators.
- Patience to establish long-term relationships.
- Putting our own value in the right perspective and distinguishing ourselves from competitors.
- Consideration, fair treatment of others combined with an open mind.
- Commitment and follow-up.
BUSINESS NETWORKING EXAMPLES
Business networking is a world of its own. There are different types of groups we can take advantage of.
|Casual Contact||General Business Groups||Chambers of Commerce|
|Strong Contact||Focused on Referrals||Business Network International (BNI)|
|Community Service||Specialized in Civic Causes||Lions Club International|
|Professional Associations||Related to a Specific Industry||International Bar Association (IBA)|
|Internet and Social Media||Strategy and Branding|
TOOLS|BUSINESS NETWORKING APPS
For a start, a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) will help to keep things in order. Insightly is a good example of this type of system.
As for other tools, these are some of the recommended apps and platforms:
- LinkedIn (Web/ iOS/ Android/ Windows 10/ Mac): with 560 million users, is still the king. It allows users to create a profile for business purposes and it helps in to establish new communities by sharing trusted contacts.
- GroupMe (Android, iOS, Windows 10): a messaging application targeted at business users.
- NameRick (iOS): a useful tool to remember names.
- Shapr (Android/ iOS): it helps to connect with people working in the same industry.
- Bizzabo (software): Conference networking made easy.
- Contxts (Beta): It provides business card information via SMS.
- FullContact (Web/ iOS/ Android/ Gmail & Inbox/ Mac): it combines address books into one single source of truth, keeping contacts organized, synchronized, up to date and safe.
- CityHour (Android/ iOS): making the most of our free time.
- Common Connect (Android/ iOS): For connecting with professionals in a specific field or industry.
- MeetingPlay (iOS/ Android): mobile event app solutions. Besides, it offers social media profiles integration.
- Clearbit Connect (Gmail/ Outlook): it’s a tool implemented to find the right contacts and improve any job search.
- Brella: this is a networking platform aimed at event organizers.
- Bumble: it’s a social connections app with a business option.
- 1 Million Cups (iOS, Android): entrepreneurs deliver online presentations every week.
NETWORKING STRATEGIES IN BUSINESS
Finding a strategy that works is an essential step in the process. Joining specific groups (as seen above) is a clever step, however, we might have to refine our methods to achieve better results.
Here you’ll find the stages of smart networking:
- Find out the reasons for establishing networks: by setting goals like finding new contacts (internal and external), building already established relationships and considering how urgent the targets are in each case.
- Estimate the required number of contacts: any new interesting acquaintance is a potential contact. Some will remain for life, others will be more like stepping stones. Either way, it’s essential to estimate the number of contacts required for a successful networking (not only clients but introducers, organization staff and suppliers play an important role).
- Track down the ideal contacts: it’s important to identify and meet the people to network with. This can be achieved via introducers and by joining organisations.
- Review the original plan and move into action: the final step. It’s fundamental to double check the reasons, priority areas, the balance between internal and external networking (and new and old contacts) as well as setting a realistic deadline.
Source: Marketing Donut