How to Use Your Networking Group to Improve Your Business
Networking is an economic activity through which entrepreneurs and businesspeople meet to identify, develop, and find, or act on business opportunities, exchange information about current events, and seek possible partners for future ventures. In today’s competitive business environment, networking can be the difference between success and failure. It can be a key to your future promotion as a businessperson. Networking can be one of the most rewarding activities in business because it is directly related to the quality and quantity of your time. Thus, the time spent networking is very important. This article presents networking as a vital business activity.
There are various types of networking events such as business events, educational events, social events, intimate dinners, cocktail parties, luncheons, and small-group outings. All of these networking events have one common factor they all involve people you know and interact with. You may attend an educational networking event, or a business-networking event to learn how other businesses are dealing with problems, receive advice from experts in the field, discuss problems with other businesspersons, and/or network with other professionals in your field. Generally, attending these events can help you understand more about the nature of business and the potential business opportunities available to you. However, these networking situations require sustained focused effort on your part to succeed.
One of the best ways to make good business connections and to promote your business is to find and add good business contacts to your network. The best way to build a network is through referrals. Referrals are business people telling other business people about you and your services. Because you are already working in the market place, you already have established ‘inferior’ business contacts.
When adding people to your network, always keep in mind the following basic principles: integrity, presence, and reciprocity. Integrity is always important. You need to have a reputation that is worthy of being lived up to. Honesty is another important quality. No one wants to be contacted by someone who is faking being what they are not.
Presence is another important quality to consider when building trust and credibility. When someone can tell you about your credibility and integrity, you are more likely to be listened to and believed in. When you are serious about building trust, remember that it is always better to be consistent than to be fake.
Reciprocity is another key ingredient to consider when building relations with other networks. Referrals made by people you know and interact with help others see that you are a reliable and ethical business person. When you give referrals to others, make sure you follow up promptly and make things happen. This helps you show the other networks that you are trustworthy.
It is always beneficial to join different groups in the business network. Networking with different groups creates bonds between you and the people in these groups. The more exposure you have in different networking groups, the more people will recognize you as a trusted business advisor. When you have established your name as someone with credibility and experience in this field, you can be trusted with referrals.
Networking opportunities like being a member of trade associations and business groups offer many networking opportunities. When networking with other professionals, it is always best to conduct yourself in an ethical manner and provide good referrals. Remember to only provide referrals to those who are in need of help and not to exploit the people for your own gain.
When attending business networking events, it is always important to maintain a relationship with others. If you already have a reputable name in the industry, you can keep your name fresh in the mind of others by providing them good service. Avoid taking advantage of situations where you are not well received and provide good service. You may think that this practice is counter-productive but if you look at it from an ethical point of view, you will find that it actually works. For example, if you attend a networking event and provide a very low cost consultation, you might find yourself missing opportunities for business because of other clients who feel that you did not provide quality service. When attending networking opportunities that require a fee, maintain a relationship with your clients by treating them as equals.
Networking is all about meeting new people and making new connections. Meeting new people means having to meet potential business contacts. It is not easy to get face-to-face contact every time you attend a networking event. One of the best ways to do this is through business networking websites. Business networking websites are a great way to make new connections and increase your influence in a specific niche. You may think that this type of networking is not for you but when you learn the best practices involved, you will quickly see that it can dramatically help improve your bottom line.
Business networking groups usually take a variety of formats. There are large social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as smaller sites such as Local Business Interaction (also known as LinkedIn). Networking groups also often take the form of professional development workshops or seminars. The best way to determine which format would work best for you is to take a look at how successful people use these sites to their benefit. Try to identify the key elements or common goals that you may want to include in your own site. These are the areas that the successful business networking group will spend time developing.