Business Networking: What Is It & Tips for Success

Cody Cromwell
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Why Should You Do Local Business Networking?

So how do you make use of your network to help build your business? Well, let…s start by looking at the benefit of “doing business networking,” otherwise known as “local business networking.”

Local business networking gives you access to your local business cronies and lets you use that network to your advantage when starting up, growing, or exiting your business.

For example, if you’re an accountant or financial planner, this could mean connecting with the professional services firms in your area with the goal of establishing long-term relationships and getting referrals on more business.

On the other hand, if you’re an attorney, you could look to start building a new practice area (such as international law or estate planning) and generate business from the local business community.

Some people find it helpful to just catch up on the gossip with other gals who are immersed in the local business community, have similar professional backgrounds, and possibly have a few connections to help find you clients.

It’s also important to know that you’re building relationships with fellow local business people, potential clients, and even candidates for employees.

In short, local business networking is one particular type of networking and a great way to build your business.

Preparing for a Business Networking Event

A networking event is an opportunity to meet new people and make new connections. These types of events are the easiest way to make new friends and get past the initial ice breaker stage. When attending a networking event, the key is to approach everyone you meet, even those you think you have no common ground with, because you never know who those potential new friends might be.

Before attending a networking event, set yourself apart by creating a strategy and checklist to make your time much more effective. This will help to make sure you get the most out of your time and to optimize every potential connection.

Setting yourself up for success at a networking event is all about having a clear vision of the event before you even get there. Establishing a plan for what you want to accomplish at the event, what your ideal targets are, and your personal brand will allow you to take in each person in the networking event in a positive and efficient manner.

When networking, you need to stand out and make sure your personal brand is strong. This requires thought and a little preparation. What does your personal brand look like? Are you a breakout personality with a unique point of view? Have built a strong reputation for a specific skill? Are you a giver or a taker? While you want to make sure you adapt to each situation as it happens, keep your personal brand in mind because your mission will be to prove why new connections should do business with you.

Choose the Right Business Networking Group

It’s very important that you find a business networking group that suits you. As any group activity, you should make sure you’re going to enjoy it, that it will benefit you and what motivates you to join the group.

A good networking group can bring in new business, allow you to meet quality contacts and help you to increase your networking skills and make contacts in other industries.

Here are the top three things to consider when choosing a business networking group:

Size/structure of the group …how big is the group in terms of number of members and how it is organized and structured? Focus of the group …is the group oriented towards a particular industry? Location …where can the group be held?

Bigger groups are easier to get out to, and you may find it easier to meet new contacts. However, small groups can also be great because you’ll have a better chance of connecting with the people there.

The group’s structure will also dictate how much you have to do to participate in the group. Smaller groups are more informal, and you may find yourself organizing meetings and dinners without much help.

Design a Memorable Business Card

Getting a business card (especially if you are new to networking) can feel like an overwhelming task. It’s good to have one handy and on hand to pass out whenever you meet someone new.

If you are trying to put together the best business card, there are some things you should consider:

  • The information you need to include
  • Layouts and design

For best results, get your business card professionally designed by a web designer, graphic designer or card designer. It tends to make a big difference in how well you will stand out from the crowd.

When selecting the information to include on your business card, keep in mind that you need to include contact information. You should include personal information like your name, email, phone number and address. You should also include your business information, which should include your business name and address. It’s also a good idea to include a photo and/or any other important information.

Your design and layout really make a difference, and you certainly shouldn’t just stick with what’s common. If you want the best possible business card, you need to do a little bit of research and testing.

Look for samples of business cards on which you can get directions on how to print your own. Print them out and really study the samples.

LinkedIn: Your Social Media ‘Business Card’

LinkedIn may be one of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert in your field. LinkedIn provides you with the opportunity to showcase your expertise to prospective employers and business partners, as well as sharing your successes and accomplishments with your network.

Since LinkedIn was launched in 2003, it has skyrocketed in usage and now has a record 240 million+ users from all around the world. So much so, that the website has its own CES 2016 Innovation Award (see image below).

What you can find on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn offers a platform to discuss a huge range of different topics. In fact, its success is measured by the people who use it. LinkedIn can be used for business and personal use, and as your networking efforts increase, you’ll find exploration invitations added to your Inbox, as well as updates to your profile.

LinkedIn is great to use for business development, however it can be a bit tricky to use for informational interview requests, because most recruiters will only send you jobs via email.

As far as creating contacts for your informational interview requests go, LinkedIn isn’t the best option. It’s better suited for actual search and lead generation with the average person. However, you can still use it in order to create your best LinkedIn profile and find the right people to connect with.

Create a Branded Mask

Perfect Your Pitch

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a pitch that ranged from unpromising to offensive? If you’ve ever offered anything to anyone who expressed interest in your product, service or other business venture, you are likely to be doing business networking.

This term was coined by a U.S. President, William Howard Taft (The 27th president of the United States) to describe his method of identifying and approaching influential individuals to help advance his political career by promoting his policies and initiatives.

Business networking has been around for a long time, but has become a prime method of communication tool for businesspersons and entrepreneurs in the last decade or so, evolving rapidly with changing times.

Business networking has changed because of the internet. It no longer involves visiting meetings in person, from 9 am to 5 pm, on a Saturday. Now, business networking is online and virtual, allowing business people to tap into the global pool of business people, investors, entrepreneurs, experts and leaders in their niche markets when they need them – and when they’re available.

Find a Networking Buddy

You’ll be more confident when you venture out in this world if you’ve got a great buddy to trust your progress to.

Take it from me. Planting yourself in a room full of strangers for an hour and then retreating to a corner on your own to drink away your misery…

Yeah. It doesn’t work that well for me.

So when I began my venture into the business world, I knew that I needed a buddy. What I didn’t realize is how important that buddy is going to be. And lucky for you, I’m about to give you one of my best insider secrets.

In fact, with one of my best insider secrets, you can find a buddy and make a great impression at the same time. Win/win, right?

Determine Your Goal

Determine Your Goal Although there are many ways to go about building a relationship with others, there’s one common idea behind the goals of all business networking, and that idea is to make a connection with another business person, vendor, and ultimately your business partner. A great way to learn about the difference between business networking and an event is to look at the participants. An event is attended by a mixer of people because all of the attendees are in the same industry and want to meet new individuals. Business networking is just as important and just as important a part of an organization as an event. In fact, many professionals who are new to the business world and are focusing on building a business instead of a career believe that networking plays a critical role in both their professional career and their personal life as well. Business networking events are not only attended by business professionals, but also by business owners, members of the media, and even those who are simply interested in a certain subject.

During the Business Networking Event

When in my first stage of business, one day, I met a person at sidewalk of the personal branding book publishing company, she is very funny and charming. One of her tip is from me , I have suggested to her to just get in touch with one person at a time (this is the only tip which is not mentioned in the book) when she is not too many people around her. she just take a notice of me very quickly and write my name down in her notebook.

If you learned networking tips from internet or Online class, I hope you can use them in real life. if you like this article, please share your thoughts with us.

Treat Everyone as Important

Chances are if you’re joining a networking group, it’s because you want to build your business and meet new people. If you treat everyone like they’re more important to you than they really are, they’ll love you for it. They’ll want to be your mentor. They’ll want to see you succeed more than they want to help you. So, treat everyone as a tiny bit more important than they are and they’ll love you for it.

Introduce Yourself

After you’ve successfully introduced yourself to someone, show them that you’re interested in them. Keep the conversation going.

Be Curious

Be genuinely curious about the person you’re talking to. Drop in questions like: How did you get started? What is your biggest challenge right now? What are you working on? These are questions that people love answering. You’ll be surprised how much they loosen up and give away if you’re curious enough.

Follow the One Sentence Persuasion Technique

Ask Questions

One of the most important skills in any business is the ability to listen. Networking takes listening to the next level, because you are listening to people and listening to their insecurities, hopes, and dreams.

So the first thing you want to do is ask questions. Ask about a person’s business and what they do, or ask them about the work they do. Don’t just start talking about yourself immediately. Also, don’t ask personal questions at first. You don’t want to scare the person away.

Most of all, listen. Really listen to what the person is saying. You’ll find that this increases efficiency during the conversation. For example, someone will explain their product, and then the conversation will follow the typical pattern:

"Oh, how did you decide to build this? Which was your biggest challenge, and have you had any success with X?"

By listening and asking relevant questions, you’ll keep the conversation fresh and the person interested.

Offer Something

Of Value:

Networking skills are about marketing yourself. So the first rule is to offer a service of value to potential clients and customers.

It’s okay if you’re not a big brand or selling a product. In fact, the fewer things that you’re offering, the better the chance is for you to have a successful network marketing business and bring in more sales.

The more you focus on marketing yourself, the more value you’ll bring to the table. After all, you’re offering a service, so it’s good to be able to back that up with real results from time to time.

A good place to start is by looking at your current skills, relationships, and experiences. Are there any marketable skills that you’re comfortable with sharing? Are there any relationships that you can leverage to your advantage? Do you have any skills that are more about selling people on how great of a person you are than on your specific skills?

Once you’ve established what you are great at, what you like, and what you have to offer, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Establish Next Steps

Any time you’re networking with business professionals, you’ll want to ask what their next steps are, and how you can be helpful to them. You should leave them with a clear plan as to what the next meeting is going to be, what it’s going to focused on, and what possible next steps you can provide.

While the transition will not be your exact responsibility, you’ll want to set up a reminder for yourself, and your contact, a few days prior to the next week’s meeting, to make sure you don’t forget about it.

If the next meeting is to go over a project and they don’t have anything to follow up on, you might want to consider sending them an e-book with tips, tricks, and resources they can use.

If the next meeting is referring to a specific vendor, you can provide them with any information or resources you’ve found in your own research and provide them with contact information so they can reach out and schedule a meeting with your contact.

Remember to reinforce the next meeting they’ve scheduled to come over to your office, and the next steps they’re supposed to be taking.

Make Notes

Everyone can be at a lull point sometimes, when you’ve got a lot to get done but you don’t have time to write down everything. So if you want to take a quick note to yourself, try using your smartphone – it’s small and convenient. When you’re writing down your business meeting notes, you have a few essential tools to work with. One of the most important tools is the note-taking app, because you won’t be able to cover every topic if you’re not using a note-taking app, Penultimate for instance.

SEE ALSO: The Best Tech Gifts For Business People

Another important tool is the stylus, which can be quite handy if your business associate is working with a touchscreen or tablet. The last and most important tool is the voice recorder, especially if you are recording notes and ideas as you hear them. If you need to transcribe what you were hearing and typing, you can later turn to the voice recorder as a backup.

Take Photos

Get a digital camera, not just a standard point-and-shoot camera. A simple point-and-shoot is fine, but a digital camera is a great tool that can eliminate need for printing and handing out handouts. Share links to your photos and handouts by e-mail, Facebook or Post-It notes where everyone can leave their contact information.

Establish a protocol about taking photos; it should be crafted as to avoid interrupting the networking conversation, as that is the focus of networking. For example, asking first for permission is appropriate. If the individual is happy to have a photo taken of them, then they are more likely to talk to you again.

Tip: Vary the size of the tables used for networking … smaller tables allow for conversation but are more practical when you are the only one at the table.

Warning: Do not monopolize a table with a long shot-glass lens camera … this technique is subtle and potentially intimidating.

After the Business Networking Event

Exchanges in business networking are far more valuable than the average networking group event. The networking groups usually go around a mix of 'get to know you' and some kind of informative presentation or informational session. The networking group members are expected to know one another because they are all from the same profession. After a few minutes of chatting with each other, they will go on with their own discussions and business deals to be done. But after you leave the networking group, you may feel you have hit a barrier to your business. However, that barrier has just now been lifted.

Your business networking experience was probably a bit different than the usual networking group event. In fact, you may not even remember who came to the networking event. You may not remember what you talked about in the breaks or what was presented. Wouldn't it be great if you had that written record of the entire event?

After the business networking event, as you watch the participants interact and discuss deals, you should be able to write down relevant questions to ask the participants afterwards. At the very least, have a list of what was discussed. And if possible, make note of any useful resources that may be available in your business community. This information can mean the difference between a good networking event and a great networking opportunity.

Follow Through on Commitments

Selecting someone to follow up with is probably one of the most important steps a new prospect/client will take toward buying from you. Be sure to develop a system so you’re not just randomly picking prospects/clients to call or email.

Schedule time in your calendar for this. That way, you’re not trying to throw in a random injection of time by emailing a prospect a few weeks later.

Include a deadline that’s reasonable as well. That way, instead of making promises that will be forgotten, you’re giving the prospect a timeline for when this will be completed

During this follow up call, don’t just ask for the order, but try to get them excited about your business.

Don’t have the follow up call with the prospect? Email them. It’s almost the same as having the call, only you’re in control of when the message is sent and if they open it or read it.

Here’s what you can say to persuade the prospect/client to buy from you:

Empathize with their situation.

Repeat the benefits.

Take a peek at where they are stuck.

Tell them how this product will benefit them.

Follow up and Connect on LinkedIn

When you’re looking at your LinkedIn profile or sending LinkedIn messages, you may find it hard to remember the latest connection or the last person you’re trying to reach out to.

LinkedIn makes it easy to track, follow up with, and connect with individuals.

The LinkedIn Follow up function makes it easy to keep track of your LinkedIn connections.

Whenever you connect with another person on LinkedIn, LinkedIn automatically creates a tab for each new connection.

In order to keep this tab up to date, you can choose to send an automated LinkedIn message to your LinkedIn connections.

LinkedIn sends a message to each new connection every time you log into LinkedIn. This reminder lets him or her know that you’ve spotted the connection in addition to helping you stay on top of your new connection.

LinkedIn sends a message to each new connection every time you log into LinkedIn. This reminder lets him or her know that you’ve spotted the connection in addition to helping you stay on top of your new connection.

Once you choose to follow up with a connection on LinkedIn, the system will let you know when you should follow up.

This is a great system for building up a network of professional contacts quickly.

To access the LinkedIn Follow up function, click on the People icon, then click on Contacts.

Post Event Photos on Social Media

Sometimes after an event, the day before or as I’m running for the elevator, I stretch out my arms and take a look at a Myself social media feed. I got involved in a lot of events this week …and it’s showing!

While a great event is good for your heart, soul and a little workout for your body and mind, it also creates a plethora of new and sometimes unexpected connections. As you listen to the presentations, hear success stories, share notes and talk about new opportunities, your ever growing network of professional contacts and colleagues will sometimes take those initial first steps to welcome you into the fold. I hope you do the same for them, especially when you receive an invitation to connect. This is exactly happen to me this day.

The first new profile that popped up on my feed was someone I wasn’t expecting to see. As he invited me into his network, I’m sure he must have used some of his speaking time to do so. After we had discussed some mutual interests and aimed at connecting on a personal level as well, I was motivated to find out what else I had unknowingly created a connection with.

Tweak Your Pitch

Once they’ve registered for your session, your attendees are given a link that they can use to look up their time and place. This post-event app is designed to make it easy for them to remember which time slot to attend, since it’s likely they’ve never talked to a number of people they’ve never met.

They should bring a pen and paper to take down their contact information. When signing-up for a session, they’ll have the option to have each attendee’s contact information automatically added to your contact list. You’ll send a confirmation email to all of them, so they’ll want to make sure to fill in their name and email.

As you approach each attendee and turn to walk away, you should make sure to give them your name and title, your website URL, and your company information. You can do this in a couple of different ways. When you greet them, you can hold in the hand with their pen a piece of paper with your information on it. Or you can simply write your information on the hand they’re not holding the pen with.

Plan Your Next Networking Event

Network events are expensive to organize, and unlike with your professional organizations or business clients, you don’t get paid to be present.

But if you have a few dollars in the bank, the strategy is very straightforward – pay for advertising in local publications, buy a couple of flyers, enlist your supporters to recruit more potential attendees, and set about planning the meeting.

If you don’t have a budget for marketing, postage, and flyers, you can also target your message at people who don’t see your business advertising in the paper. You might offer to host an event at a local park, invite your business networking circle to a party, or organize an invitation-only get-together for those people who don’t want to publicize their plans.

The key is to get started and don’t be shy about organizing your own event. Even if you are just one-on-one with your business networking contacts, you can still gather valuable information that can help you build a better business.

Bottom Line

Networking Is Your Most Important Business Asset

Networking is one of the most important business assets that you can utilize to help promote and grow your business. Effective networking must be a habit that you constantly incorporate into your work life. It is simply a matter of learning how to do it.

It is one of the easiest ways to kick-start your business and work inside your company. The more closely you develop relationships with people in your sphere of influence, the more opportunities and business opportunities you’ll be provided.

Networking is the foundation of effective marketing. You are networking by consistently attending meetings with the same faces.

Teaming up with other entrepreneurs, attending seminars, social events, networking clubs, etc. is building your business and personal relationships on a regular basis. This is what will make the difference between having a business and being at the point of building your business in order to have a business. The better the networking, the greater your chances are of acquiring clients, customers and making sales.

Networking is about actively seeking out groups of people that you prefer to work with. It can be done with a partner or alone, but if you network alone, you can witness the results of your work and efforts.

It is not about working an hour and waiting for minutes of return on your investment. Be sure to really build a relationship and be available for the long haul.