Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions - either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites.
The shortened term 'networking' can be confused with computer networking/networks, which is different terminology, relating to connection and accessibility of multiple computer systems.
A business network of contacts is both a route to market for you, and a marketing method. Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be very difficult to engage with using conventional advertising methods.
In addition, business networking brings with it the added advantage of recommendation and personal introduction, which are always very helpful for developing business opportunities.
Business networking is a way for you to make the maxim, "It's not what you know, it's who you know.." work for you.
The principles and techniques of business networking are mostly common sense. Many of the behavioural principles apply also to business and relationships generally, and specifically to selling, managing, coaching, facilitating, etc.
business networking - quick tips summary
Here are ten of the most important principles for effective business networking. More details are linked from each tip to bigger explanations below.
Consider that all sorts of professional people outside of the business community can also be very helpful networking contacts - for example, scientists, lecturers, educators, councillors, etc. When developing your networking plans, think beyond the people you'd typically see at other business networking events. Some of the most important connections are not business people, and consequently you need to be creative in reaching them. The examples of networking situations/methods below provides help with this later.
These tips apply broadly to any sort of business networking - face-to-face, organized events, business social networking websites, etc:
ten essential principles
1. Elevator speech. Describe yourself concisely and impressively.
2. Be different. Differentiate yourself. Aim high. Be best at something.
3. Help others. Help others and you will be helped.
4. Personal integrity. Integrity, trust and reputation are vital for networking.
5. Relevant targeting. Groups and contacts relevant to your aims and capabilities.
6. Plans and aims. Plan your networking - and know what you want.
7. Follow up. Following up meetings and referrals makes things happen.
8. Be positive. Be a positive influence on everyone and everything.
9. Sustained focused effort. Be focused - and ever-ready.
10. Life balance. Being balanced and grounded builds assurance.
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