Business networking is about building relationships with people for the good of your business. As an entrepreneur or business person, you have to be strategic about the kind of people that you meet and the connections you build. This involves you intentionally and strategically building connections with people who might likely be your customers, but much more, they are also able to refer you or your business to other people. This way they help to pass positive information about your business to other people. In business networking, you have to ensure that you are in contact with people that can help you with information, as they can also be a way for you to locate reputable vendors that might hire your business too.
Business networking is not about asking people for favours like many think it is. It is actually about building trust in people and starting up a friendship or relationship with other businesspeople based on this trust. This misconception yet points to the fact that there are yet many people who do not understand what business networking is and how to go about it.
In order for you to create a robust business networking system, you have to learn to build business relationships. Here are some ways to help you achieve it.
1. Attend networking events related to your business
The first thing you have to do is to make yourself available for business events. At events like this, you are definitely going to meet people in the same industry as yours. So, it is the best opportunity for you to network, meet people and build relationships. You can get information or help from the contacts that you make in events of this ilk, and this can be the difference between where your business is and where it can get to. The event you attend does not even have to be related to your industry or business even though it is better to be that way. A random event can also do the trick. What matters is the people you meet and the relationships that you build from there.
2. Set a goal for yourself
Without setting a goal, there can hardly be an achievement. So, before you attend events that might connect you, it is important that you have set a goal for yourself. You must endeavour to have a plan for what you want to achieve at the event. Even away from attending events, being particular and intentional about the things you want to do, the decisions you make and the people that you meet are the starting point to business networking.
3. Be social during your off duty period
Being off duty or taking a break from work does not stop you from networking. On-duty or off-duty, networking never stops. This is how you build a larger network. You must make constant effort to be in touch with people that you have met before and have started conversations with. There really is nowhere you cannot make a business connection. You could attend sporting events or go to your child’s school during your off days and still build business connections with other people.
4. Identify icebreakers in conversations
When you meet people at first, you want their first impression of you to be good. Remember, that you only get one chance to create a good initial impression of yourself. While it might be easy for some people to start up a conversation with a total stranger, some other people find it very difficult. This is where identifying icebreakers in conversations become important. Overcoming that initial shyness and awkwardness is important, and a good way to start is with a compliment. For example, if you meet somebody at an event, you could walk up to them and compliment their dressing. If they gave a presentation at a seminar, compliment them on their presentation and highlight the key points that you learned. From here, you easily kick off a conversation and build relationships.
Another way to break the ice is to ask a question. Asking questions is the easiest way to start a conversation and keep it flowing. Ask about how they started in the industry, talk about the recent trends and advancements in the industry, etc.
An even easier way to help you start conversations with a stranger is to have someone you know around you. If you are too shy or introverted to talk to people, having a coworker or friend with you can help you. If this is the case, then consider moving out for events in twos to help you build s connection with people.
5. Try to follow up on people you speak with
Meeting people and starting conversations with them is only one-half of the journey. That is just networking. Much more than networking, you have to build a relationship. You cannot have a relationship with someone after just one meeting. You have to ensure that you keep things rolling, so, it does not end at just meeting them. In most of the cases, you have to purposely find a reason to follow up on the contacts that you have made. If you come across an article that is relevant to your industry, you could forward it to them just to keep the communication with them. Inviting them for conferences and seminars is also a way of keeping in touch with them. Whatever you do, just make sure you do not stop at just the first meeting.
Networking is a very practical means of marketing and is, in fact, the best and the cheapest way to market your business. While you are meeting up with people, you must ensure that you give them a good first impression of you. Try to not sound selfish or negative or in a way that could put people off.
About the author: Leon Collier is a blogger from the UK. He works at college paper writing services and loves to write about everything: pop-culture, travel, self-development, marketing. He loves reading and playing tabletop games on Saturday nights with his friends. Follow him on twitter @LeonCollier12.