Business networking is all about entrepreneurs coming together through trust & mutual relationship to become living advertisements for one another. It is one of the most effectual ways for businessmen or startup founders to find investors, advisors as well as key executive candidates for enhanced business propositions. For most business people, networking is not just an important activity but also an essential skill for success. Using expert tactics to network profitably, executives can create a pool of contacts such as business associates, customers, suppliers & mentors who can assist them in running their business with ease. Business networking is a cost-effective technique of new business generation than advertising or public relations. But it demands more personal commitment, focus, method and keenness. However, just like social networking, there is a solid etiquette to be followed for this process.
The following is a list of dos and don’ts that will help you enhance your networking skills and broaden your reach:
• Join a local business group: It is a wise idea to begin this procedure by joining and then actively participating in a local business group. Business groups are spread across cities and are emerging swiftly while gaining popularity too. These are spots where you can meet people from similar or different backgrounds who can assist in your business growth. And vice-versa. Nevertheless, it is important to select the right groups that will enable you to get what you may be looking for. Some meetings are based on volunteering activities, learning and establishing contacts rather than striking business connections.
• Ask questions: Make sure to ask open-ended questions that make way for discussions and foster conversations. Feel free to make inquires to display that you are genuinely interested in them.
• Present yourself as a powerful resource: This is exceptionally crucial because when people know you as a strong resource, they remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, contacts, etc. Presenting yourself as well as your company is the key to gaining success in the networking space.
• Articulate: Even during casual meetings, ensure that you are expressive about what you may be seeking and in what ways others could help you gain it.
• Keep in touch: It is important to call or reach out to those who could benefit you. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, try to support them in whatever way possible and make it a point to get together to share ideas for the future.
• Show Appreciation: When a contact offers you a referral, make sure that you help him with some advice in exchange. Never miss the opportunity to thank him for his gesture. A card or cheery e-mail makes it obvious that you value the relationship. Bear in mind that business networking is not about surface smiles; it helps build long-lasting brand reputation and paves way for meaningful connections.
• Choose a networking group due to its size: Business networking can be conducted in a local business community or on a much larger scale. But remember to be on the hunt for quality contacts that can truly help you to reach out for fresh forays.
• Present your business card before a conversation: Get to know the person first, make proper acquaintance before presenting them your card.
• Offer unasked for opinions: Try not to put yourself in a potentially awkward situation by proffering unsolicited judgments. Offer opinions only when you’re asked and be as fair as you possibly can with them.
• Expect immediate results: Networking is not about using people; it's about creating communally advantageous relationships, where you can meet a wide variety of interesting people, help them and craft solid, enduring affiliations. A one-sided gain is never the purpose of business networking. If you approach networking from a "what's in it for me" standpoint; it comes across as improper. So, be patient. It takes a while before people are comfortable enough to offer you a referral.
• Forget to follow up: Lack of follow-up is the main reason for missed business opportunities. A simple follow up with an e-mail or a phone call can be incalculably rewarding. It permits you to keep the lines of communication open.
Online & in-person business networking
Indian businessmen are increasingly using social network as a platform to grow their circle of contacts and promote themselves too. These networking tools permit professionals to upsurge their group of business partners they rely on. Since businesses are expanding internationally, social network has made the task of keeping in touch with other contacts a lot easier. Specific e-commerce platforms and business partnering networks (like LinkedIn) has tremendously helped executives from across the globe. But for most Indian executives, face-to face meetings is still the perennial choice for networking. Perhaps, that is why the popularity of general and exclusive events will never peter out here.
For a professional, business networking should be part of his creed. Networking opportunities turn into business relationships all the time - you just need to be aware, identify and make use of them.