The current highly dynamic business environment has seen business development strategies go through a dramatic change. People no longer just use telephones to establish initial contact with a prospective customer like it used to be not so long ago. The same is true for postal mail which has basically almost become obsolete. Novice businessmen are embracing new business development tactics to foster trusted relationships and leverage them to meet potential clients. These relationships are what form the spine of a business network and should, therefore, be nurtured to grow since a large chunk of any future business will come from them. In this respect, having a web of contacts, resources and support are necessary to establish a strong business for the sake of the business. Business networking is a smart way to enlarge your scope of knowledge through learning from other people’s success, acquiring new customers and informing others about your business.
Common Types of Networking
There are three main ways in which a person may choose to begin their business networking. The first and most obvious is in person, second is through phone and video conferencing. The final way is through purely online methods :
In Person Networking
Many people have heard of “networking” at a conference, party or other event. This will consist of people in a specific or overlapping field getting together to meet each other. By presenting yourself and your business well, it will be thought of by the person you are talking to. One of the keys to networking in person is to listen to the other person’s business needs, then seeing if you can fulfill any of those needs in the future. Every person is there to make connections to either make sales or improve their business. The relationships developed while networking can lead to long term business partnerships!
Networking through the phone is something that’s been done for a long time. Cold calling another business or individual to attempt to build a relationship or make a sale has been done for decades. In this method of networking, a person simply calls another and talks about their product. This can be quite the turn off for many people. Being approached without it being requested is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. This requires a deft touch. One way to avoid this is to call about a product or service the other company is offering. Try building a relationship about other things before trying to make a sale.
There’s a certain kind of feel and skill set required when it comes to using the internet for networking. This is primarily done through email and social media. Forging a business relationship with someone online takes special skills. The ability to properly convey tone and emotion online is difficult, but it makes developing a business relationship quickly. One key is to stay in contact consistently but briefly. Online communication is typically done in bursts. No one wants to read a novel’s worth of communication at a single time.
Facts to Know
Setting up the right business network could just be what will make you stand out from your competitors. The following are essential facts and benefits about networking that any business owner should be interested in:
- Provides a feel of the local environment- In the context of a small business, it helps the owner understand the nature of the local market, its demands and effective price points with regard to the psychographic and demographic profile of the area.
- Updates on local business activities- Networking keeps the owner abreast with the latest business news, incentives, regulations or tax reliefs in the locality through sharing information with other business owners.
- Provides leads and referrals- On average, 70% of new business is realized through lip service and positive referrals. Sales leads and referrals are the best way to increase business; not investing in marketing and adverts.
- Business advice and tips- The best business advice you get will usually come from your contacts. These are people you established positive alliances with so they will effortlessly give you an honest opinion.
- Unlocks fresh business potential- Networking attracts business contacts, associates and peers who expose the owner to a wider scope of ideas. They will help you see the potential in the market that is yet to be exploited.