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Getting Smart With Professional Networking

Introduction:

Business networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients and/or customers. The primary purpose of business networking is to tell others about your business and hopefully turn them into customers.

Learning how to effectively network for business can significantly increase the number of new leads you generate. This is ideal for entrepreneurs, start-ups and a good way to get onto the fast track for your business dreams. By attending networking events, you stand a better chance of meeting someone who can help your business grow.

Building up a network of business professional associates isn’t hard to do. Probably every friend, manager or colleague you’ve had in your lifetime is already in your network. Searching and adding them on a social media platform such as LinkedIn means you will already have a substantial network behind you before attending an event.

Here’s just few business networking tips you can use to grow your professional network.

Be Helpful

When people in your network get stronger, you get stronger. By helping people in your network get stronger, they may be in a better position to be able to help you in the future. In addition, per the law of reciprocity, people may be more motivated to return the favor.

Share your expertise and ideas. Share information. Promote your network’s work and accomplishments. Be a connector. Business transactions are always mutually beneficial. One person is buying a product or service because it will benefit them in some way, and one person is selling a product or service because they can profit. If you can connect two people you know who would benefit from knowing each other, you can help two people as well as improve the strength of your network.

Build a Reputation

In a professional setting, people prefer to build business relationships with people they see as being valuable. By building a reputation as someone who is talented, helpful, and valuable, people will be more motivated to meet you and stay in touch with you. Let people know what you’re accomplishing and learning through blogging, emails, and conversations.

Be Visible

If no one knows what you’re doing, it’s like it never happened. Maintain regular and consistent with people you want to stay in touch with. Communicate via email, blogging, social networking, and of course, in-person.

Meet Lots of People!

The best way to make lucky things happen, is to make a lot of things happen. Go outside. Manufacture serendipity. Ways to meet new people include conferences, events, meetup.com, Quora, asking people you know for introductions, reaching out to people directly, personal interest groups, intramural sports leagues, classes and workshops, parties, happy hours, alumni associations, Twitter, and LinkedIn groups.

Be Intentional

Go where the people you want to meet hang out both online and offline. Interact with people and build rapport. Share valuable content and spark interesting conversations. Also think about who else spends time with the people you want to meet and connect with them.

Think Long-Term

Connections open doors, but relationships close deals. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Relationships take time to build. Be patient. Stay in touch with people you like.

Get Rejected!

When you push yourself, in any area of life, you will inevitably face setbacks. In networking, you will face a lot of rejection. People will ignore your calls and email. They will decline meeting invites, and requests for introductions. Trying and failing is much better then not trying at all. At least when you try you have a chance to succeed. Learn from your rejections and grow stronger for when it happens again.

Listen

Listening is one of the most valuable, yet commonly overlooked, skills to have in networking and in business. People love to talk about themselves and appreciate when you take a genuine interest in what they have to stay. By Listening will help you to get to learn about peoples’ challenges and get to know them better, which can ultimately lead to more productive professional relationships. Ask open-ended questions, be genuinely interested, and express interest and curiosity.

Ask

You never know until you ask, and more often than you think, you will get the answer you want. Ask for introductions. Look for people you want to meet to meet with you. Take an advice.

Follow Up

Build a reputation as someone who delivers on their promises and is persistent. Follow up with on people who promised to do something for you. Follow up on emails you send that get ignored. Do what you promised to do for others.

Business Networking Groups

Local business groups – Most cities and towns everywhere have local business groups that meet on a regular basis.

Typically, in addition to other member benefits such as discounts from corporate members the CoC regularly holds luncheons, workshops on business topics, and other networking events, providing members with many opportunities to connect with other organizations.

BNI (Business Network International) – Created by Dr. Ivan Misner to find ways to increase clients for his personal consulting business in California in 1984, BNI has become a worldwide phenomenon. The purpose of each BNI group is to provide referrals for its members. Only one person from each profession specialty is allowed to join a chapter of BNI, which eliminates the possibility of competition among members of the group.

On that note, would like to inform that Absolin’s Founder Mr. Ramesh Saragadam serving as an Ambassador and Brand Guardian for BNI- Vizag from past 5 years successfully.

Community service groups

Professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities. Such groups can be ideal business networking groups for those who enjoy mixing service to their community with networking.

Professional associations – Specific industries have specific challenges and opportunities and those who also work in your industry will know them best. Membership in such groups can also boost your professional standing.

Social media/ online business networking groups – One of the things the internet excels at is creating opportunities for people to get together online so social media/online business networking groups are legion. If you’re a business professional, you definitely want to be on LinkedIn. Other than that, once again pick the networking group or groups that are the best fit for your business and your goals.

Make the Most of Your Business Networking

Meeting people in person seems old fashioned in the digital age, but wherever possible you should network face-to-face. Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are excellent ways to communicate with customers and business associates, but they do not substitute for meeting people in person. A lot of local business is still done on a handshake basis, and the best way to network with other local business owners and entrepreneurs is through business groups.

The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas, and support. The most important skill for effective business networking is listening; focusing on how you can help the person you are listening to rather than on how he or she can help you is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Business networking is about cultivating relationships – you’re not going to be able to do that if you’re trying to be an active participant with five or six different groups. And you need to be an active participant in whatever networking group you join. It’s contributing that will bring you the benefits of networking you’re looking for, such as more business. You need to not only attend the meetings of your networking group regularly, but go prepared to offer something of value to the group.

Choose the networking group that’s best for you. A strong contact referral group such as BNI, whose purpose is for members to find and exchange referrals, operates very differently than a community service clubs whose primary purpose is to serve the community.

Conclusion:

Forming and maintaining strong professional relationships is a key component of career success. These networks help individuals to access resources, information and support. But people often hate networking.

Strong networks provide a range of benefits including learning, sources of information, salary growth, innovation and a means of getting things done. Research shows that people with diverse contacts are able to access information that helps them generate better ideas.

Building professional relationships improves both quality of work and job satisfaction. As the landscape of work changes rapidly, employees are making more frequent career moves, which means that networking is a critical competency.

“Assess the requirements, Explore the opportunities and Implement the changes and Succeed – Sky is the limit”.

If, you are a newbie and have some questions- ask me in the comments…
If, you’re an expert- share your secrets with me in the comments…

THANK YOU !!!

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