Whether you know it or not, business networking is an essential part of a business manager’s job and you should invest time and effort into getting networking right. As a digital marketing consultant I advise business owners how to grow their company by using Internet. Nevertheless I also admit that business networking deliver as much return on investment than digital strategies. Both financially and in non-monetary terms, my network has delivered so much value for my business that I can not imagine what my situation would be like without it.
I’m in business for more than 15 years and I’ve done business networking in Belgium, Florida, Québec, and now in Portugal. By my experience, if there is one thing that I could suggest that would be guaranteed to boost any business, is mixing digital marketing strategies and business networking.
Here I listed 3 reasons why networking might benefit to your business.
1. Networking is Not Selling, but Building Relationships
Networking is about spotting opportunities, so you want to spend time asking questions about the person you are talking to and their business, to try to see whether they have any problems that you can help with. And there is nothing business owners need more than good relationships with others. Spending time on building a relationship could deliver results in the future. If you have been managing for a while you’ll know how important it is to cultivate relationships with clients, suppliers and business partners. From my own experience I know that good business relationships improves the perception of success in business management as well.
2. Networking is Expected
This is the first reason of anyone who networks. Even if your role isn’t explicitly to bring in new business or to market the company, you are probably expected, as most people are, to meet new people and understand the market place as part of your role. This is definitely the case for business owners who need to quickly pick up information about the new contacts, and how do you do this? Through talking to people. When you talk with other during a networking event you learn more about the business, understand the industry better and hear about the challenges faced by your contacts. If you’re managing small or medium companies, networking is important as you have to deal with the ‘what’s in it for me’ approach that many of participants will take.
3. Networking is a Virtuous Circle
If done right, meeting more people leads to more business, which leads to meeting more people and more business, and so on. It might not feel like it now, but you never know what doors are going to open in the future, so it’s worth operating as if that next useful contact is round the corner, as they probably are.
If you are not getting enough opportunities, then you need to build your network. Opportunities like joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, businesses or assets bought and sold … you name it. All the best opportunities are shared person to person in back channels. Everything from prime domain sales through to employment opportunities. If two people are equally qualified then it goes to who you know, like and trust. A lot of the time even when the person you like is less qualified.
In conclusion, what I want you to remember from this article is that while the impact might not be immediate, the compound effects of networking are significant and long lasting.