There are alot of networking questions asked by business owners because every business owner wants to ensure that their businesses grow. In search of this growth, they try to increase productivity and efficiency through by employing high-skilled staff, training their staff and working over-time. However, all these might not really be enough in some cases. What if you have all these but no contract? This is where networking comes in. Networking gives you that edge in whatever industry your business is in.
Not just any network but symbiotic and professional networks that will pave ways and take your business to the next level. As you read on, you learn more about networking, get answers to some networking questions and see how vital networking is towards the development of your business.
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What is networking?
According to The BalanceSMB, business networking is the process of building mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses, people, potential clients and customers.
The ultimate goal of business networking is to inform others about your business- products and services, with the aim of hopefully converting them into customers or returning customers if they have patronized in the past.
Networking is very crucial for the growth of any business especially if it’s a start-up because, at this stage, there need to be a lot of relationship building to create awareness in whatever industry the business is in.
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The Importance of Networking
You have read lines in previous paragraphs telling you that business networking helps boosts growth, development and longevity of your business. Now you’ll learn ways networking proves its importance in your business.
Boosts Business Portfolio
According to Small Businesses BC, Getting visible and drawing attention is a huge benefit of networking. When you attend business and social functions, people start to recognize you and give you a listening ear. This alone increases your reputation as someone who’s knowledgeable, reliable and efficient.
It also simultaneously boosts your business portfolio because you’re the face of your business. Therefore, you are more likely to get more leads and referrals if they ever need a service or product that you offer.
Medium advices that when you create network with different people, you have a higher chance of coming across new opportunities.
Opportunities are limitless whenever you network and it ranges from asset or business sales to partnerships, leads, joint ventures, etc. All you need to do is ensure you build relationships with the right people and not those that’ll harm your business.
Referrals and Increased Sales
Amazing Business says that this is probably the most obvious benefit that networking offers, hence, the reason most business owners choose to participate in networking activities and join networking groups.
Referrals gotten through networking are usually of high quality and most of the time, are pre-qualified for you. After which, it is your obligation to try as much as possible to convert these referrals or leads into loyal clients. The higher the referrals, the higher the sales.
How to Start a Networking Conversation
Now you have seen a few of the benefits/importance of networking which must have answered some of your networking questions, let’s see how you can participate in networking for your business especially if you have never participated in it before.
About never having experience with creating profitable business relationships, Say you want to begin, how do you go about it? Do you know the questions to ask? The things to say?
Starting is not rocket science. However, there are a few boxes that must be checked to achieve a successful business relationship with a complete strange.
Do not just hide at a corner while sipping a drink then expecting meaningful relationships to be made. This isn’t the time to be shy; exude confidence and walk up to people in an approachable manner displaying the best conversational manners.
Inc warns that you should not forget to put on a smile, look good and smell nice- they help with the confidence.
Have a Great Handshake
When you approach someone or vice-versa, the logical thing to do id begin with a greeting gesture which is usually a handshake. Don’t be too firm on the grip or too loose either. You don’t want to make the person uncomfortable at the first gesture, so a firm and swift handshake with a smile will do.
This is not compulsory because you don’t want to appear desperate. Give compliments where due, i.e. “You have worked so hard! You must be proud of your results.” Keep it professional so it doesn’t look you’re throwing compliments about just to impress.
Start with Questions
After compliments- even if you didn’t give one, you can continue the conversation by asking networking questions, you can gradually dive into matters that interest you. You could start with little informal networking questions like “Is this your first time at this event?”, “How did you get into…?” “Do you do own a business?”, “Tell me about what you do?” and the plane takes off from there.
Where can Networks be built?
Knowing how to start a network conversation is not enough, you have to practice and do as informed. Where can you find potential business partners, friends and connections?
Most people will say you can build networks anywhere even in a bar because there’s a chance that one-in-five people in the bar could just be a casual drinker that owns a business and a string of networks too.
However, BI shows common places that you can build meaningful business relationships:
- Career Fairs
- Chamber of Commerce Events
- Church Groups
- College Career Networking Groups
- Professional Conferences
- SME events, etc.
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Building a successful business is a process which takes time and requires drive. Therefore, it’s important to have a network of friends and associates to draw energy from and keep you going because there’s no limit to the benefits building relationships will offer your business.
Ensure that you always surround yourself with people who share similar drive and goals. Hopefully this article has cleared some doubts and answered your networking questions.
To achieve harmony – whether within your team or in your relationship networking – it is crucial to centralize dialogue and organize the requirements for the exchange of information.