I am a big advocate of networking. For many years I ran the referrals EXPO and the Business Networking Summit here in Dublin. The benefits for our members was truly remarkable.
From my experience, professionals use networking as a means to form relationships with others, in like or related fields, that help to expand ones’ effectiveness.
For those who are considering networking as a means to drive their business, allow me to share some advantages:
1. Business Leads
Networking is a great way to acquire new business leads. Using the contacts you make when you meet people can open doors for business opportunities.
They may not be direct leads, but its the relationship you establish will lead to potential opportunities.
It is important to communicate professionally when you follow up on leads. People want to help others but aren’t interested in someone badgering them for business. Off value first and foremost and be sensitive to timing and use common courtesy when following up with contacts.
2. Job Opportunities
Statistics show that networking is the best way to land a new job. If you are looking to move into a new area of employment or start a new business professional networking can expose you to jobs that aren’t posted online or in newspapers. You simply never know "who knows who".
Informing others know that you are looking for a job, and what your expertise and experience is, could open career doors of opportunity.
3. Personal Opportunities
Networking can also be a personal benefit. Professional relationships you develop can be used for identifying practical solutions to everyday life.
I have met people at networking events many years ago, and these people have become personal friends of mine today.
Weaving personal conversations into your network helps others get to know you in an intimate way and helps build the relationship.
4. Identify Best Practices
Networking is a great way to identify business best practices or industry benchmarks. Meeting like-minded professional and learning from what others do is a valuable strategy for all businesses.
5. New Business Trends
Networking can help you stay on the cutting edge of technology and new business trends. You might learn of a simple tool that can automate the way you rin your business (Xero for example). These types of relationships and “inside” information can give you an advantage over your competitors by implementing new and fresh ways of doing things.
Having said all of this, networking is a skill and some people are just naturally more gifted at mingling with people they don’t know and making friends on the first contact.
My final networking tips for you
- Practice being friendly and learn the art of striking up conversations.
- Learn the trick to remembering people’s names that you meet.
- Get a system; write something specific about a person on the back of their business card so you can remember them when you get back to your office.