Networking is important because it helps you gain access to new opportunities. A strong professional network is essential for success in today’s job market. If you’re planning to start your own business, or you already have and are working on growth and expansion, you need to build relationships with people who can help you achieve your goals.
What does networking mean?
Networking is defined as “the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.”
Business networking consists of three things:
-Meeting and making connections with people within your field
-Exchanging ideas and information
-Developing those connections into ongoing relationships
The first step to successful networking is making connections. You can do this by attending social events, going to a business seminar, joining groups online, or signing up for a business matchmaking platform.
In an informal social setting, you might talk about what you do professionally. You might discuss topics such as industry trends, best practices, or challenges that are unique to your field. In a more formal setting, you might stick to topics that directly help you decide whether or not to work with someone or with another company.
In either case, the human element is key! All business takes place between people, and people generally like dealing with others who are friendly, curious, helpful and confident. So it’s worth bringing your best self to all your networking opportunities, even when you’re not directly gaining from a specific conversation or interaction. This is what takes you from basic information exchange into the possibility of a deeper connection.
Why should companies network with other businesses?
Business networking is a great way to expand your reach within your industry. You can learn about the latest trends and technologies, meet potential clients, gain exposure, and make connections with people who can help you grow your business.
Types of business networking
Networking doesn't always involve shaking hands and exchanging business cards. There are different ways to network and different types of business networks. It all depends on what you’re after. Here are some common types of networking:
When you meet business associates outside of your organization, you’re participating in industry networking. For example, if you’re attending a conference, you’ll likely find yourself meeting other attendees there. If you’re looking to start up a business relationship, you’ll want to focus on making connections with those who are already operating in the same field.
Social media networking
Social media can be a great way to network! Many professionals use Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and other platforms to connect with potential customers, clients and colleagues. Take the time to learn how each platform works, who spends time there, and what the etiquette is for interacting with each other. Figure out what kind of presence you want to have and what you’re hoping to achieve, and choose your social media mix and approach accordingly.
Personal networking is built on the kind of informal interactions that happen in everyday life with people who may not be in your field at all. When you cultivate a friendly approach and stay curious about others, you can make connections in any setting: on a plane, at the grocery store, at a friend’s birthday celebration. From there, exchange contact info, follow each other on social media, or simply remain friendly when you run into each other. Don’t be that annoying person who leads every conversation with a business card in hand—coming on too strong rarely makes a good impression. But do keep your mind open to business-related connections even in non-business settings. You might be surprised how often these kinds of everyday conversations can lead to opportunities!
Referral networking happens when you introduce someone to someone else. In the context of business networking, referral networking is a way to build strong professional relationships.
What are the benefits of networking with other businesses?
Effective networking can have a huge impact on the success of your business. Not only does it present additional business opportunities, but it can also help grow your brand and boost your profile. Here are some of the benefits of business networking!
Strengthen business connections
Networking is all about sharing. It is about forming trust, and helping each other to achieve goals. When we are networking, we’re looking for ways to connect with others and to form relationships based on mutual benefit. In short, we want to help others succeed, and they will in turn help us succeed and attract business leads.
The best way to build a strong network is to regularly engage with your contacts and find opportunities to assist them. This builds a level of trust and creates a foundation you can rely on. By doing this, you sow seeds of reciprocity.
Learn from others
One of the best things about networking is that it gives us a chance to learn from others. Sometimes, when you ask someone for advice, they give you something completely unexpected and insightful. Since everyone thinks differently, asking someone else for advice can open your eyes to new possibilities and solutions that you never even considered. In turn, you might have just the gem of wisdom someone else needs!
Grow your brand
Particularly with small and medium businesses, a brand is often tightly associated with its creator. If that’s you, then every networking opportunity you have is effectively also good for your brand! Be judicious about how much you focus the conversation on your brand; not everyone wants to hear the ten-minute pitch you might give to a potential funder. But if you use good judgment, your networking can complement and even directly benefit your branding efforts.
Develop long-lasting relationships
Many of us don’t realize how important our professional networks are. We tend to think of our friends and family as the ones to turn to for help, advice and emotional support. But what if you’re looking for career guidance, introductions, or even just someone external to talk to about a business issue? Your business network can provide you with a great sounding board. After all, while some issues are specific to a given field, a lot of challenges are common to all kinds of business areas—from human resources to sales to strategic direction. When business contacts help each other out through these very real difficulties, it can deepen a relationship from purely utilitarian beginnings into real friendship.
Business matchmaking services
If you’re hoping to create new relationships, find new customers and connect with the businesses you need to support your own company’s growth, business matchmaking is the ideal solution for you. At B2BeeMatch, we provide fine-tuned matchmaking to help you find the businesses and customers who will help you grow.
Our matchmaking platform is designed specifically for small and medium businesses. Matchmaking can save your company money on traveling, networking events and other similar costs involved in scaling up operations.