The term ‘business networking’ refers to the practice of building up a network of contacts which can later be leveraged. When opportunity arises, the presence of a strong business network will allow you to get in touch with the right people.
How does Business Networking Work?
If you’re talking to the right people about the right subjects, then you’re networking. These conversations might be taking place at an industry event, or at a friend’s garden party, or even over a social network that’s built for the purpose, like LinkedIn.
Business networking is something that’s best done proactively, as this will help to ensure that all of your contacts are familiar with you before you want something from them. If an old face from your past suddenly contacts you out of the blue asking for a favour, then you might not be inclined to help them out. Simply by touching base with a person every so often, and perhaps helping them out then they’re in a tricky situation, you’ll establish yourself as someone who can be turned to when there’s a project arising.
Business cards are a nigh-indispensable part of effective business networking. With their help, you’ll be able to present your contact details in a succinct way that’s non-obtrusive, and that won’t be forgotten later.
Why is Networking Important?
Let’s examine a few of the reasons that networking is vital for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
1. Access to new opportunities
Let’s suppose that someone you know has a need of a service that someone else you know provides. When the first person expresses their need, you can act as a go-between, uniting the two together. The same process can benefit you, too – any member of your network of contacts might put you in touch with new clients and collaborators.
2. Establish a reputation
If your face and name are constantly associated with opportunity because of your networking contributions, then they’ll be more easily reached for when members of your network are considering new ideas. This will translate over the long term into respect and admiration. People might remember you when they need the help of an expert!
3. Keep yourself informed
The better your network of contacts, and the more time you spent networking, the more scope you’ll have to stay updated on developments in given industries. Not everything worth knowing is published publicly, and having the ear of someone on the inside can be invaluable, especially if you’re looking to break into a given industry and you need advice.
4. Make new friends
Business relationships can often lead to meaningful friendships, too, since you’ll almost necessarily be liaising with people who share your interests and mindset. As a side benefit, you’ll also be able to deepen friendships you already have – and perhaps even turn a profit from them!