Business networking is crucial to success. Don’t believe us? With every new person’s hand you shake, you gain another chance to branch out, to heighten brand awareness or form partnerships that accelerate your growth. Nothing beats having a conversation with like-minded business people, investors, mentors, and potential clients. In fact, business networking is so important, that if you haven’t attended a meeting yet, you should. Otherwise, you are missing out!
Networking is an underestimated factor in your business endeavors. So, we are going to give you some reasons why enriching your business network should be part of your strategy.
Benefits of Business Networking
You’ve heard it before, but business is, without a doubt, all about who you know. You could be a genius in your field, but it won’t matter if others are not there to back up that claim or support your dreams. When starting up a new business, finding others to mentor, educate, and assist can relieve some of the stress that comes with your venture.
Leads to New Business
Let’s start with an obvious reason to try business networking. Making new professional connections means more business and more referrals. It’s as simple as that. When other business or industry leaders know your name and what you do, they will gladly tell others about you, too. Sometimes, you will meet new customers just by attending an event. Even walking away with one new contact offers more opportunity than never having gone at all.
When you network regularly, you are meeting and re-meeting people, earning trust and respect, gaining friendships, and boosting the overall reputation of your business. The more people who know your name and your face, the more they will know what you can bring to the table. You can leverage this by building rapport with all kinds of people at a business networking event. Build that clout.
Makes You a Resource
Making others aware of your existence is the first step to becoming a go-to resource for the services and products you offer. Those you have made an impact on will recommend your services. And those who know your name will contact you when they need you.
Provides Insight, Inspiration, and Perspective
Since you will be engaging with people from all walks of life, fields, and educational backgrounds, you are going to meet some unique personalities. Listen to their ideas. Collaborate. Try to gain as much insight as you can from them while offering up opinions of your own. This is important, because business is ever-evolving. The more ideas you are exposed to, the more you can adapt your business to economic changes and trends.
Builds New Friendships
Whenever you get a chance to meet people with similar passions, you get a chance to make new friends. Networking is one of the best ways to make friends as an adult professional. You can also find people who are willing to be your business mentor and teach you valuable lessons.
Gives You Access to Influencers
Another reason you should start business networking is the open door to hundreds of influential people in and around your area. One event could lead to an invitation to larger workshops and seminars where famous minds assemble together. You may leave a meeting with numbers from several esteemed individuals. Since you are making face-to-face connections, you don’t have to play phone tag or worry over outreach emails.
Keeps You Up to Date
The more business networking you do, the more knowledge you gain. All kinds of discussions happen at meetings and events that pertain to the current business climate, trends, news, and even more focused topics, like new technologies. If you attend a seminar, you can get insight from leaders in a specific field or learn new business strategies.
Networking builds your brand and self-awareness. By discussing who you are and what you do with others, you gain valuable skills in presentation. You’ll find that your confidence in speaking about your skills will rapidly increase, and so you’ll be able to showcase your achievements to anyone without any hesitation. Such aplomb elevates your brand’s image, too.
Maintaining Your Business Network
Keeping up with the relationships that you make at events is just as important as starting them. The longer you can maintain the relationships with other business people, the stronger your partnerships will become. The more opportunities you will receive. While it will take some effort, you will be glad that you have people there to help whenever you need it. Here are some ways you can sustain your connections:
Networking goes beyond just showing up. To build a relationship with anyone, you need to communicate in a way that shows how much you value the connection. Whenever you meet with others, make sure that you are bringing something worthwhile to the conversation. Congratulate others as they overcome hurdles or get promoted or introduce a new product, for example. Offer up tidbits of wisdom, too. It will take you far and ensures you aren’t overlooked.
In other words, use some self-awareness while you traverse the world of business networking meetings and seminars. For example, just because there is alcohol served at an event doesn’t mean you should get drunk. And be careful about how you discuss events or post pictures.
Your professional life is going to be impacted by the way you behave in and out of events. While networking is an incredible way to connect with people and maintain relationships, it can also counteract all your work if you do not behave accordingly.
Do Not Burn Bridges
The scenario may seem unlikely, but there is always a chance that someone you wronged (or vice versa) in the past could show up to a business networking meeting. Or your relationship could sour overtime. Keep in mind that, no matter how tempting it may be, that you should maintain politeness and positivity when conducting business matters. Social media is unforgiving these days; burning bridges may come back to haunt you later.
No matter your industry, networking is always an excellent way to connect with other professionals in a range of fields. Together, you can grow your local influence and expand your business and brand to other locations. Not every acquaintance is going to blossom into a business relationship or friendship, but every encounter will teach you something useful.
Business networking is fulfilling and fun. Join us for a meeting today and start growing your network immediately. Check out the SJBA business networking schedule or get in touch to ask us any questions you have. We look forward to meeting you.
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Businesses flourish when they are nurtured and fed with relationships. After all, business is all about who you know, who buys from you, and who you call when you need assistance. That is why you need connections. Business networking is where you get the seeds required to grow your business and see it expand throughout the years. To help you navigate your next business networking event and gain those useful connections, we have put together a list of tips and tricks.
1. Dress For Success
Just because your networking meeting is online over Zoom, it doesn’t mean you can get away with wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. You need to dress appropriately. The dress code will often be business casual, but you should always double-check with the event manager. For example, some luncheons might have a very lenient dress code, while professional seminars could require a suit.
2. Come With a Goal
Before you walk through the doors of the networking event, you should come up with a goal or two for the meeting. Winging it might work for some people, but you will have much more success if you have a topic of discussion in mind.
Common goals for business networking include:
- Finding a mentor or apprentice
- Building relationships
- Finding a partnership
- Talking about angel investors or venture capitalists
- Marketing your new business and building brand awareness
- Discuss marketing strategies you would like to try
These are just a few examples. You can choose other strategies, depending on where you are with your business or the kind of relationship you are searching for. After setting the goal, it will influence the way you move about the meeting and how you speak with others.
3. Avoid Gravitating Towards People You Already Know
You may be nervous about meeting tens or hundreds of new people, especially if you are introverted. Rather than gravitating towards people you are already acquainted with, seek out the host of the event then look for others who are standing alone to introduce yourself. When you sit down, find a spot next to people you don’t know yet. Doing so keeps your mind on the goal and will compel you to form new relationships.
4. Be Aware of Body Language
Although humans say what’s on their mind with words, the body has a language of its own—and it says a lot. Posture, eye contact, and expressions can reveal much about what a person is thinking or feeling. Understanding your nervous ticks and maintaining awareness of your face and posture will help you come across as much more confident and inviting. When speaking with others, give them plenty of eye contact, tilt your head in their direction, smile, and do not slouch. Make sure your body isn’t conflicting with what you say.
Keep in mind that there will be a mix of people at these events. Extroverts and introverts are going to react to encounters differently. You may have to adjust how to engage with different people to make them feel comfortable.
5. Give Business Cards—Thoughtfully
For any event—in-person or virtual—you will want to have business cards. And make sure those business cards look good. Most people can imagine a business card that caught their attention somehow. Maybe it was the unique design or the weight of the paper or the presentation. Those standout business cards make you more memorable, and you want that. Don’t hand out boring business cards.
If you are attending a virtual event, you can share a link to a downloadable version of the card or offer to send your card along in an email or by mail.
One thing to keep in mind for international events is business card culture. If you are passing out business cards to people who are not from North America, particularly Asian cultures, you will want to be far more polite. Japanese businesspeople, for instance, will treat the exchange of business cards as something incredibly significant.
6. Active Listening
Business networking is also a chance to work on your soft skills. Don’t approach people and launch into a business pitch straightaway. Instead, ask thoughtful questions. Listen to the answers. Not only will you gain valuable insight on the personality of the people you are speaking to, but you can also learn more about their brand and business goals.
This will also make others more comfortable around you, and they may be more willing to provide you with information.
Another way to employ active listening is to say the other person’s name a couple of times. Make them feel heard and seen. Furthermore, give them your full attention. Try not to get distracted, even if there is something else going on around you. Look for the same cues in other people.
7. Take Notes
Sometimes there are networking events that are overflowing with people, and you may shake so many hands and give so many introductions that you forget who is who. This is when you should be taking notes. After every encounter—never during—jot down a quick memo. Here are some things to include:
- The individual’s name, first and last
- Their business or field or work
- Whether they are employed, a business owner, or independent contractor
- Their business goals
- Anything else you found noteworthy
If they gave you a business card, you should mark that down as well.
8. Be Sure to Follow Up and Meet Again
After you introduce yourself to someone and exchange information, be sure to follow up with them within 48 hours after the event. Otherwise, they may forget about you. Thank them for the conversation and extend an invitation to meet again or ask if they plan to attend the next networking event. From there, work to develop the relationship.
When you attend a business networking event, you should always focus on making a great first impression. Let others know that you are willing to help, that you can offer them something of value. And keep this in mind: after having attended the event, the others should hope to have you return and discuss business with them again. In doing so, you will have made acquaintances that will soon turn into amazing relationships and friendships.
Kickstart your business networking today and join other local business owners at the next SJBA meeting! We would love to meet you. Check out the schedule or drop us a line
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Building your business locally can be daunting, especially when you are just starting out and the competition is sizing you up. With the right network, however, you could amplify your outreach and broaden your horizons. That said, many South Jersey small business owners do not understand business networking, nor do they find it effective when they try.
That’s why we’re going to explain the ins and outs of business networking today. We’ll also provide you with some tips to make business networking easier than ever.
What is Business Networking?
Business networking is like any other kind of networking, where you work to establish a reciprocal relationship with other businesses or potential clients and partners. Most of the time, these people or groups you network with can assist you in expanding your business while you offer them something in return.
This mutually beneficial partnership opens up multiple opportunities for you, such as access to professional experience, knowledge, and contacts.
Why is Networking Important? What Are The Benefits?
Business networking has one significant advantage: you can seek out possibilities that you could never find by yourself. Networking widens the scope, so you can gain valuable insight from different industries that you may not have had access to prior. A single contact may introduce you to meetings, opportunities, events, or other possible partnerships.
You also meet contacts who can increase your knowledge of an industry or trend. You can meet mentors, who will school you in successful business practices. Or, you could meet someone who helps you troubleshoot technical issues.
Some examples of this include finding a lawyer or accountant through your network when you need one. Your networking channels could even guide you towards venture capitalists and angel investors.
When you want important feedback or critiques on your products or services, you can turn to your business network, as well. And that advice you receive will be invaluable.
How Does Business Networking Work?
The best way to network locally is still done face-to-face—at meetings or local events. Attending a business luncheon or joining a video conference aligns you with other business owners and entrepreneurs with similar values and circumstances. Generally, such events are used to discuss methods and concepts that could drive more traffic towards businesses. In that same meeting, you get a chance to shake hands with others and exchange information.
When you become acquainted with other business owners, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Give them a business card or your business info and make plans to discuss points of interest that could benefit you both. After associating with other business-minded people, you will find yourself surrounded by those who wish to assist you in some way.
The best way to receive advice or assistance, however, is to go to these events or meetings prepared and ready to offer up something of value, too.
Different Kinds of Business Networking
There is more than just one way to network. Many people tend to think that networking is limited to online communique over Twitter, but there are so many more opportunities than that. You can choose the medium that works best for you and your business.
Here are some types of business networking you can explore:
Organizations like the American Marketing Association, American Management Association, or smaller groups, like the South Jersey Business Association, exist to help like-minded business people like yourself make connections with others in different fields and industries. Some organizations will have membership fees or requirements that you must meet, while others are less exclusive. Either way, professional associations are crucial to businesses looking to expand and form partnerships.
Two of the best examples of a networking group are LinkedIn and Meetup. These online communities work as a hub of information, where people from all around the world can come together to talk about business ideas, concepts, and exchange information.
Business Seminars and Professional Development
When you attend a seminar or go to a professional development class (in-person or online), you get a chance to make connections with people who have similar interests. Plus, you gain valuable knowledge on the topic of discussion from the seminar.
Tips For Effective Business Networking
Now, here are some tips that will make your networking more successful:
- Find the right venue. Look for special interest groups, local organizations, and Chambers of Commerce events or groups.
- Remember it’s about relationships, not selling a product. You are not seeking out new clients. Approach networking without expectations. Instead, aim to meet new people and forming acquaintances.
- Be giving. Rather than thinking about what others can do for you, think about how you can help them.
- Be authentic and polite. Since you are representing your business and your brand, be sure to show off the best qualities and give everyone in the room as good of an impression as possible. Don’t take up too much of one person’s time. Exchange information with individuals you click with then move on.
- Follow up. After making a connection, take some time after the event to reach out. Tell the individual how much enjoyed speaking with them. If you promised to send information to someone, be sure to do that.
Business networking is a process, one that you must keep working towards. But it’s worth it in the end. By developing partnerships, you gain special opportunities. Other business owners are looking out for assistance and a chance to be helpful, as well. So get out there and communicate with other business people near you.
Ready to try business networking? Then why not come to the next SJBA meeting and acquaint yourself with other local business owners? Check out the meeting schedule or send us a message for more information.