Whether you’re building a business, expanding your career or simply looking to make new connections, business networking is the best way to meet like minded people. So what is business networking? It’s a simple concept that has the power to transform the way you work and provide new opportunities that can’t be accessed any other way.
Getting involved with business networking can often seem daunting. After all, there’s a wide world of industry partners, colleagues, customers and competitors that you need to think about. If you’d like to maximise the time you spend on networking activities, it’s worth exploring a training course that covers the information you need. Accessing a little bit of training is all it takes to ensure you’re making a good impression and truly seeing the benefits of your business networking efforts.
Read on to find out exactly what is business networking.
What is networking in business?
Networking is the act of building social and personal connections that can provide mutual benefit. Typically, networking is used in business and by professionals to help find new employment opportunities, clients, business partners and more. “Business networking” is any type of networking that’s focused on your business. For example, rather than leveraging your personal networks to find your next job, you could use your business network to find potential investors, customers or staff.
The advantages of business networking
The networks you build are one of the most valuable resources your business has. Maintaining relationships with customers and other businesses is the best way to market yourself and ensure you’re the first to hear about emerging opportunities.
Taking the time to build strong business networks provides a range of benefits, including:
1. Valuable relationships. Strong relationships with suppliers, customers and other companies can enhance your business and provide a support network when you need it.
2. Find expert advice. All business owners face challenges sooner or later. Business networking brings you into contact with others who have been in your shoes, and they will often be willing to provide advice and guidance on the challenges you’re facing.
3. Unlock new opportunities. Positive business relationships can open up new opportunities that allow you to grow and evolve.
4. Provide help to others. Just as your business network provides help to you, you will have an opportunity to support others. Providing guidance to others is an excellent learning opportunity for everyone involved, and you’re likely to come away with new ideas for your own operation.
5. Recruit talented staff. Your business is only as good as its employees. Networking gives you better access to talented staff members at the moments when you need their help.
6. Reach new customers and suppliers. It’s impossible to expand your business without growing your customer and supplier network. Networking with the right businesses can help you find high-quality suppliers and loyal customers who love what you do.
How to get started with business networking
When you ask yourself what is business networking, you need to know where to begin. This is often the most challenging part. You’re unlikely to build successful relationships simply by calling around and looking for opportunities to network.
Often, the best place to begin is the customers, suppliers and partnered businesses that you’re already working with. Building those core relationships first won’t just strengthen your business, they can be the cornerstone of your business network. Strong relationships with customers and suppliers often turn into word-of-mouth marketing that attracts new people to your business network.
Beyond that, you can get started with business networking by looking for events in your area. Attending networking events and clubs ensures you’ll be forming quality relationships with like-minded professionals.
Tips for business networking success
Building a business network takes time and dedication. To ensure you’re getting value that’s equal to the time you’re investing, it’s important to set goals before you begin.
Ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve personally, professionally and as a business owner, and then decide how you can get those things from your network. For example, if you’re looking to recruit new staff, you probably don’t want to spend your time networking with businesses in entirely different industries.
With your goals set, you can begin building your networks. We have a few tips for how to build a stronger business network:
- Attend networking events. The strongest networks are formed with other professionals who are also open to the idea. Business networking events give you access to other business owners and professionals who can form an important part of your network.
- Use social media. LinkedIn continues to be the world’s biggest and best professional networking platform. Make an effort to be active and keep up with the people in your network through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Play to your strengths. Understand the value of your business and how it can help others, then learn how to package that information up and present it to the people you meet. Confidently conveying what you do and why you’re an expert is a great way to turn your networking efforts into new clients and business referrals.
- Step out of your comfort zone. Attending networking events and meeting lots of new people might not be your cup of tea. If that’s the case, you’ll need to stretch your comfort zone and put your business’ needs first.
- Offer value in return. Business networks run on mutual value exchange. That means others should get as much value from you as you do from them. Don’t become the person who’s always asking for favours and support. Instead, make an effort to offer your own support whenever you can. Being a good networking partner is the best way to attract new opportunities and ensure you’re getting value from the businesses you’re partnered with.
- Follow up. If you’ve attended an event and talked to other professionals, don’t be afraid to follow up. Make the effort to follow up with your contacts a few times a year - even if you don’t need anything. It’s often a good idea to get in touch and find out whether your contacts need your support. Offering help is a good way to stay at the front of their minds and work towards mutual business goals.
Our final piece of advice is to make sure you ask your network for the things you need. Make sure the people around you know what you’re looking for. This transparency not only improves your relationships, it means your network can help keep an eye out for the opportunities you’re after.
Expand your career potential with a business networking course from MiTraining
Networking is one of the best tools at your disposal when you’re looking to grow your business or expand your career. Leveraging your networks won’t just help you find a new job, it can also provide your business with new customers, suppliers, employees and opportunities!
Want to truly understand what is business networking? Our specially designed Business Networking Basics course is full of the tips, advice and tactics you need to succeed at business networking.