First impressions they say matters a lot in life. Networking is a pivot aspect of the business in which individuals explore to achieve their aim. Whether we accept the fact or not, people judge us solely on how they see us, meaning what they perceive is their reality. Therefore, there is constant need to package ourselves well so that we can leave a lasting impression on our prospective clients and customers.
Business networking otherwise known as BN is the establishment of a symbiotic relationship with diverse people, potential clients, and customers. It can also mean a situation where we build and use connections and contacts made in business environments for reasons other than the initial contact. The aim of business networking is to let other people in about the type of business we indulge in so that they can be future clients.
IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING
There are various merits and benefits attached to business networking, they are:
- Solving complex business problems
Networking in business is an avenue in which different business problems are eradicated. A typical example is when you are in dire needs of startup equity funds for your business; it is very likely you find a venture capitalist or an interested client who will be able to sponsor the venture.
- It gives a huge boost to your confidence
A lot of positive-minded individuals are optimistic about the future and what it holds for them. Constant networking and association with such people will boost your morale, especially when going through a difficult face in your business. There is little like interacting with people of like minds who have probably gone through what you are going through to encourage you and give you hope of light at the end of the tunnel.
- We become current business-wise
In this ever-changing business world, it is significant one keeps up with the latest market conditions and trends in the business industry. Attending symposiums and networking with prospective business clients and associates on a frequent business will let you stay ahead of your peers in the business world.
- It helps in expanding one’s knowledge
Business networking is ideal for acquiring more knowledge by taking into account various viewpoints and experiences of others which are valuable, whenever one needs to invest time or money in a venture.
How to Network Online
Networking online is used thoroughly to achieve the desired results. Kindly remember that online is a tool that is powerful but should never be used to replace face-to-face connections, it should be a supplement.
The first thing to look for is influencers, this is people who can mention us publicly. Types of influencers are bloggers, pod-caster, journalist, radio host and event producers. Kindly use various social media to find these people.
After connecting with these influencers, kindly subscribe to their newsletter or you can add feeds to their various blogs directly.
- Always make sure you comment on this influencer blog or website.
- Always re-tweet their content
- Always mention their names in your content.
- Online Networking Business Opportunity and Networking Business Sites Online
Various opportunities are open and begging attention for business networking online. As an individual who is interested in online business opportunities, you should be able to use the social media effectively to pass your message. These are some of the most effective sites for business networking online.
- Facebook: It is an effective platform for individuals who wish to stay in touch with friends, family members and colleagues. But a lot of people overlook the idea that there are various business opportunities on this platform which we can tap into. Facebook is an important place to promote your financial brand. (www.facebook.com)
- Twitter: Twitter is very useful for networking business because it allows you to tap into a community of people from around the world. Twitter connects strangers and friends. You can share advice, ask for one, share someones advises if it is informative. The teeming youths of these generations are all locked into Twitter, thereby making it a strong platform for connection. (www.twitter.com)
- Beyond: This helps millions of professional business individual to network with each other and find a suitable career for themselves. (www.beyond.com)
- Data.com Connect: Data.com Connect is an online platform where business ideas, feedbacks, and innovations are shared with like-minds. (www.community.data.com)
- LinkedIn: This is one of the most popular professional network connections around and it allows individuals to collaborate with other professionals in one’s field. (www.LinkedIn.com)
- Network for professionals: This site is for professionals that mix online business networking and real-life scenarios. (www.networkforprofessionals.com)
- Perfect business: It is a network of investors, capitalist, risk-takers, entrepreneurs and business gurus who promote entrepreneurship and success. (www.perfectbusiness.com)
- Quibb: Quibb connects professionals via the use of business commentary and news. (www.quibb.com)
- StartupNation: This is a business community which focuses on the exchange of concepts between entrepreneurs and new-bees business owners. (www.startupNation.com)
- Viadeo: Viadeo offers social media connections for business professionals mainly who live in France, but it has various clients and members around the world. (www.us.viadeo.com)
Gust: it connects new business owners with a huge pool of investors across the world to help raise the early-stage funding. (www.gust.com)
Gadball: This is a good alternative to LinkedIn and it has various features and content that resembles LinkedIn. It also provides links for C.V creation and job searching. (www.gadball.com)
E.factor: This online community is joined with a virtual marketplace.It is mainly for entrepreneurs. (www.blog.efactor.com)
Black Business Women Online: This blog is created solely for black women who are business entrepreneurs and professionals. (www.bbwo.com)
AngelList: Angellist is a social network community that connects startup business owners and investors to help raise capital. There is also an avenue for browsing of jobs at startups. (www.angellist.com)
9 Tips for Professional Networking
There are various tips on business networking that will come handy for whoever wants to go into business networking. These tips are there to guide you against making any financial mistake that can jeopardize your business venture
1. Always go for quality over quantity
If you are seriously interested in business networking, don’t just start handing out your business cards and fliers to every tom, dick and harry you meet, individuals are wary of people who are just looking for the next contract. A serious individual will bond more with prospective clients they interact with. These people need to know you care about them and that it is not just about your personal gain. No one likes to be dumped
2. Make the relationship symbiotic
The best way to establish a business network relationship is to contribute positively to your new customer pressing business challenges. If your client state a problem, that is on their mind, the best thing for you is to contribute to how that problem can be solved. Show you care!
3. Use social media effectively
The impact of social media cannot be over-emphasized for professional business networking. But please do not spam people, no matter the situation you are. Be precise and use social platforms to supplement face –to- face connections.
4. Build a good reputation for yourself
In professional settings and climes, individuals prefer to build connections with people they see as an invaluable asset. You can do this by enhancing your reputation as an individual with talent, honesty and being calm. People will be more disposed to do business with people with such behavioral tendencies.
5. Make yourself accessible and Visible
People need to know what business you are doing, so show them. Maintain frequent contact with clients you place a huge value on. You can do this through the various social media platforms available at your disposal.
6. Don’t be afraid of rejection
Every time you push yourself in any area of life, you will definitely face setbacks. In business networking, you will face lots of rejections. Clients will not return calls, messages, and emails. Others will decline messages and business dinner invitations. Please know that making an attempt and failing is better than not trying at all. Learn from such rejections and move on.
7. Always ask questions
No one is an island of knowledge, therefore it is advisable to ask where one does not know.You never know who is in the corner who will give you that perfect answer to your question and cure you of your ignorance. Ask for advice from people you feel are more experienced and knowledgeable than you.
This medium is one of the most valuable skills in the business world, but it is often overlooked. Individuals cherish it when people hear them out and when they feel people are empathetic to their situation. As a business networker, you should refrain from just talking every time you meet a client, give the client the chance to express himself and show interest in helping to solve it with them
9. Follow up
You should always build a reputation as an individual who delivers on their promises and can be trustworthy. Make sure you always follow upon people who promise to do something for you at a particular time. Give necessary feedbacks on emails, calls, and messages. Always keep to time and do what you promise other colleagues. There is a thin line between following up and stalking. Don’t ever stalk clients, associates, and clients, it is bad for business.
Business networking can help your business grow when done right but always remember to add value to other people.
About Author: Ify Mustard is the Founder of Neshprint, a leading printing company in Nigeria. She is a frequent contributor to Helf For Startup who loves to write about entrepreneurship and marketing…