5 Key Tips To Make Business Networking A Success

June 22, 2017

Every form of marketing and business development activity is ultimately focused on one goal, which is to start a new conversation. Networking, telemarketing, online marketing, and direct mail are examples of activities businesses can undertake to start new conversations with prospective customers. With any of these, knowledge and skill are required for the activities to work most effectively for a business. 

Individual networking and formal networking events provide a platform for business owners and managers to meet new contacts and, eventually, over time expand their network to include prospects, customers, suppliers, professionals, and other colleagues. It is important to understand that networking and networking events are not meant to sell products or services but to build a foundation for later sales and referrals. This base of contacts can be a valuable asset for any business.

The following five key tips can make business networking an ultimate success.

1. Understand Networking Target

Networking success depends on knowing relevant information relating to exactly what type of individual to target...position, industry, location, etc. A business owner can then plan which networking events are best to attend that will provide the most desired results. Although the perfect connections might not be at every event, it is highly likely that connections made can be leveraged to meet additional individuals by way of referrals. 

2. Make Time To Network

Successful business networkers understand that it takes time and effort to build a strong network. This is not achieved through a quick conversation at a networking event. Planning in advance and scheduling time to attend business events where the right target audience will be in attendance helps achieve success in this area. Making time to network is just as important as making time for employee meetings, customer meetings, etc.

3. Forget About Selling 

The key to successful communications at networking events is to stop selling and start listening. The first communication should be focused on meeting, building rapport, and developing a relationship with each connection met. Trust is important in building lasting relationships and future business or referrals. After the first handshake, the road to networking success is building trust.

4. Follow Up

The most common failure in networking is the lack of follow-up after a connection is made whether through an individual meeting or networking event. A meeting must be followed by some type of communication... an email, handwritten note, or phone call. No follow-up means a lost potential contact and possible referral. Networking follow-up is not just for new contacts but for previous contacts, as well.

5. Use Technology 

Although business networking relies on traditional communication skills, there is a multitude of technology to support this endeavor from scanning business cards to making digital notes. CRM (customer relationship management) systems store relevant business and personal information in addition to providing follow-up reminders. The use of technology can greatly enhance the efficiency and success of networking.

Social media also provides an up-to-date method of developing online relationships versus actual person-to-person networking events. Connecting and pursuing leads from LinkedIn and other forms of social media is an excellent low-cost way to network via the web. Combining actual networking events, personal meetings, and use of technology can accelerate the base of networking contacts.

Business Networking Is A Key Activity For Business Success

Although modern technology continues to change the way people and businesses communicate with each other, there is little doubt the strongest relationships are still built through traditional communication techniques. Business networking remains a key activity for any business owner. 

Building a widespread and strong network requires time...meetings and follow-up. Certainly not all connections will result in an ultimate sale, but the more connections made, the greater the chances of a connection turning into a customer or a connection making a referral to someone who will turn into a customer. When the time is right for someone to seek a particular product or service, the goal is for the connection to think of you. A strong network of connections can open a whole world of new business opportunities.