Growing older and adding a few more years on my work experience, I better realised the importance of business connections. A great way for expanding your business social cycle is networking.
What is networking?
Networking is about interacting with other people with a purpose in mind i.e. to meet other business professionals from your industry, potential clients, referrals, suitable candidates for vacancies or possible employers you want to work for. If you enjoy meeting new people, this makes networking even easier for you!
Why is networking important?
Share knowledge and experience
Interacting with other business people, clients or associates, is a great opportunity for sharing knowledge and experience. Insightful conversations can give light to common challenges and considerations. Professionals can exchange ideas and possible solutions that can be developed to impactful outcomes.
Develop collaborations or joint ventures
Networking can open doors to new collaborations or ventures. It allows you to get to know people working in various companies and industries thus, expanding your connections across sectors. Knowing someone working at an organisation always makes it easier to contact that person for an enquiry. An enquiry might lead to an interesting conversation during a face-to-face meeting. Through time, a trustful relationship can be established between two parties, leading to joint collaborations or ventures.
Attract new clients
Good listening skills are important during networking. People you meet might describe business problems that your company can address. Talking with people of your target audience keeps you up-to-date with market trends and challenges which you can help tackle. Therefore, networking can bring you close to potential clients and can be used as a way to attract new business.
Making a good impression to the right people during networking, can be helpful for future career opportunities. How? Imagine there is a vacancy at the organisation where your new contact works; someone with whom you spent one hour talking the other day and with whom you exchanged business cards to stay in touch. Depending on how comfortable you feel, you can call that person to find out more information about the vacancy, or to ask them to act as a referral. On the other hand, your new contact might be the recruiter of the role. Having met you already and hopefully liked you, this might work in your favour, compared to other candidates.
Interacting with other business people during an event or over drinks might sounds great, but for your aim to be achieved, it is important that you get the contact details of the people of your interest. To say that your attendance at a networking event was successful, you should aim for at least two new connections. Once this is accomplished, you can connect with them on LinkedIn and follow-up in the next few days, in an effort to start building a relationship. You can either propose a meeting to elaborate on what you discussed or send them an interesting article about a common topic you touched during your conversation. Following-up and keeping in touch is critical for any outcomes that might arise from networking.
Make the best out of your next networking event with the above in mind!
The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not in any way reflect the views of my current or any previous employers.