Networking in business is a way to establish and build relationships with colleagues that can be mutually beneficial in both growing your business and growing yourself professionally. Effective networking brings people together to learn about one another and the business they provide.
Many businesses offer opportunities to network in the form of meetings, conferences, trade shows, webinars, and seminars. It’s important to attend when you are able and to make new contacts. You can benefit by obtaining new clients, getting referrals, forming new business partnerships, learning new skills, etc. Social media communication such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter can also be great ways to connect, however, face-to-face is the preferred method when possible.
When meeting people, be sure to get names and write important messages down so that you can refer to these when you get back with that individual. Be sure to have solid communication in regards to your service. Know what you are looking for and how others may be able to help you. Also, be willing to help others and problem solve when you can.
In order to maintain business relationships, try to regularly stay in communication with those that you’ve networked with. Make an effort to visit or call customers and colleagues even if it’s been a while since you last spoke.
Some people hesitate or are not comfortable with attending in-person networking events. But like anything else, by practicing and putting yourself out there, you can grow your communication skills and develop other skills that can benefit you in your career. Participating and showing up at events may help you discover new opportunities within the industry. Getting together with other industry professionals allows you to gain knowledge in order to grow and operate your business more efficiently. You can learn a lot by speaking with vendors and your peers.
At the very least, attending a networking event and starting a conversation on a positive note usually leads to a sharing of ideas and a learning experience. You never know when your life, both personally and professionally, can be changed by a brief exchange of words.