Imagine for a moment that you own a printing business. Your website has served you well for 5 years, but now you want to update it because your business has changed. You’d like to add some new service pages and delete some old ones, you want the navigation to be more intuitive, and you plan to make it mobile-friendly.
As you begin searching for web developers, you recall that you already know a really good one. You met him at a conference 2 years ago. The two of you traded stories about your businesses, realised that you might be able to help one another in the future, and have been in touch ever since. In fact, 6 months ago you gave him some useful advice about how he could save money using a new technology you came across.
Now, you’re about to make your first call to get your website development process off the ground. Who do want to be on the receiving end of that call: your friend from the conference, or a total stranger? That’s the power of business networking.
What Is Business Networking?
Marketing strategies evolve and new technologies emerge, but one simple fact doesn’t change: business people benefit from strong relationships with other business people. It provides them with new growth opportunities, keeps them current in their field, teaches them about their customers and helps them solve problems
How Can Business Networking Help Your Business?
The operative word in that definition is “mutually.” To be effective, your business networking strategy needs to give as much as it takes, displaying your willingness to help others in business as much as they help you.
That, said, here are 5 reasons you need an effective business networking strategy:
- It will generate new referrals: some of the businesspeople with whom you network will eventually become your customers, or refer you to other people who will. Because the people they refer already know and trust them, those referrals will be predisposed to trust you. Networking will also open up opportunities for beneficial partnerships and joint ventures and pave the way to opportunities to expand your business.
- It will make your business more visible within the business community: to be effective with networking, you need to frequent important events within the business community, like luncheons, conferences and other networking events. The more other businesspeople see you “in action,” the more they’ll trust you and appreciate the value of your business. It’s important after you attend these events to follow up with the people you met, and keep the relationship active and growing.
- It will help you stay on top of industry trends: to remain competitive, you need to be aware of important trends and developments within your industry. You can certainly do that by reading trade publications, but networking adds a human touch—the specific experiences of others in your industry—you can’t get in print or on the internet.
- It will help you solve problems: whatever problems and challenges you face in your business, odds are that other people in your industry have encountered the same difficulties—and some of them have already solved those problems, or have useful insights that can help you. For example, if you have a critical job opening, business associates might suggest an ideal candidate to fill that spot. If you’re trying to secure critical funding, someone with whom you network might put you in touch with a willing angel investor or venture capitalist.
- It will increase your self-assurance and confidence: when you develop a group of trusted business associates, you’re essentially “working with a net.” Knowing that, if you need help, someone will be there to provide that assistance adds to your confidence and empowers you to take the kinds of calculated risks and embrace the bold innovations necessary to help your business grow.
While it’s important that your networking is open and transparent—and that your dealings with other businesspeople is honest, without hidden agendas—it’s nevertheless the case that the primary purpose of your networking strategy is to drive sales and boost revenues. In fact, everything you do in your business should be part of a comprehensive strategy to grow your business.
That includes seeking help from trusted professionals who can provide you with critical services you don’t have in-house. To learn more about the ways our management, financial, and business improvement coaching services can help you succeed in your business, contact us today.
About David Officen
David is the Founder and Managing Director of proCFO. David combines an accounting and consulting background with commercial experience both as a manager for large commercial businesses and as the owner of private and family businesses.